Gate of the Sun
by Khoury, Elias
“I didn’t fight, my dear man, for land or for history. I fought for the woman I loved.” In a makeshift hospital in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut, Yunis, an aging Palestinian freedom fighter, lies in a coma. His spiritual son, Dr. Khaleel – who has no real medical qualifications – nurses the older man, refusing to admit that his hero may never regain consciousness. In an attempt to revive his patient, Khaleel, like a modern-day Sheherazade, begins telling Yunis the stories of their people’s exile in Lebanon: their flight from Galilee in 1948; the violence of the 1950s; the massacre at the Shatila camp in 1982. He evokes deserted peasant villages, the suffering caused by the Lebanese civil war and the refugees’ hopes to return home with a subtle mixture of anger and compassion. Khaleel also narrates Yunis’ own extraordinary life: his childhood in Palestine and his commitment as a member of the fedayeen; perpetually on the run, fighting and hiding in caves.Interweaving many true-life tales collected throughout Lebanon and its refugee camps over the course of seven years, Elias Khoury has created a monumental and spellbinding saga, putting human faces to a political tragedy which remains at the forefront of the news even today.