I Was Born There, I Was Born Here
by Barghouti, Mourid
In 1996 Barghouti went back to his Palestinian home for the first time since his exile following the Six-Day War in 1967, first in Egypt and then in Hungary, and wrote a poignant and incisive account of the exile’s lot in the acclaimed memoir I Saw Ramallah. In 2003 he returned to Ramallah to introduce his Cairo-born son, Tamim Barghouti, to his Palestinian family. Ironically, within a year Tamim himself had been arrested for taking part in a demonstration against the impending Iraq War and found himself not only in the same Cairo prison from which his father had been expelled from Egypt when Tamim was a baby, but in the very same cell. I Was Born There, I was Born Here traces Barghouti’s own life in recent years and in the past – early life in Palestine, expulsion from Cairo, exile to Budapest, marriage to one of Egypt’s leading writers and critics (Radwa Ashour), the birth of his son, Tamim, and then the young man’s own expulsion from Cairo. Ranging freely back and forth in time, Barghouti weaves into his account poignant evocations of Palestinian history and daily life. His evocative, composed prose, beautifully rendered in Humphrey Davies’ precise and sensitive translation, leads to the surprisingly candid condemnation of the Palestinian authority’s leading figures and the astonishing verdict that ‘The real disaster that the Palestinians are living through these days is that they’ve fallen under the control of a bunch of school kids with no teacher.’ Beautifully rendered by the prize-winning translator Humphrey Davies, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, is destined, like its predecessor, to become a classic.