LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
A subtle psychological portrait of the author’s relationship with his father during the twentieth-century battle for Palestinian human rights.
Aziz Shehadeh was many things: lawyer, activist, and political detainee, he was also the father of bestselling author and activist Raja. In this new and searingly personal memoir, Raja Shehadeh unpicks the snags and complexities of their relationship.
A vocal and fearless opponent, Aziz resists under the British mandatory period, then under Jordan, and, finally, under Israel. As a young man, Raja fails to recognize his father’s courage and, in turn, his father does not appreciate Raja’s own efforts in campaigning for Palestinian human rights. When Aziz is murdered in 1985, it changes Raja irrevocably.
This is not only the story of the battle against the various oppressors of the Palestinians, but a moving portrait of a particular father and son relationship.
Palestinian attorney and human rights activist Shehadeh (Where the Line Is Drawn) movingly blends the personal and political in this heartfelt take on his complex relationship with his lawyer father, Aziz. The latter, born in 1912, was a fearless advocate for his clients, including the men who assassinated Jordan's King Abdullah in 1951, and an early supporter of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite having fled his home in Jaffa after the modern Jewish state was declared. He was murdered in 1985 by a former client, a crime for which Shehadeh still seeks answers. As Shehadeh writes, their interactions were often fraught with a hostility Shehadeh attributes to his father's unpopular political positions, and his sense of regret after his father's murder, over missed chances at healing their relationship is palpably and eloquently conveyed: "Not being aware of the extent and the sheer number of battles he had fought during his life," Shehadeh writes, "I could not understand the measure of his anger, disappointment, and unhappiness." This poignant memoir will resonate with many, whatever their positions on the political conflict at its center. George Lucas, InkWell Management.