In 2000 Mourid Barghouti published I Saw Ramallah, the acclaimed memoir
that told of returning in 1996 to his Palestinian home for the first time since
exile following the Six-Day War in 1967.
Born There, I Was Born Here takes up the story in
1998 when Barghouti returned to the Occupied Territories to introduce his
Cairo-born son, Tamim, to his Palestinian family. Ironically, a few years later
Tamim had himself been arrested for taking part in a demonstration against the
impending Iraq War. He was held in the very same Cairo prison from which his
father had been expelled from Egypt to begin a second exile in Budapest when
Tamim was only a few months old.
Ranging freely back and forth in time
between the 1990s and the present day, Barghouti weaves into his account of
exile poignant evocations of Palestinian history and daily life - the pleasure
of coffee arriving at just the right moment, the challenge of a car journey
through the Occupied Territories, the meaning of home and the importance of
being able to say, standing in a small village in Palestine, 'I was born here',
rather than saying from exile, 'I was born there'.
Full of life and humour in the face of a
culture of death, I Was Born There, I Was
Born Here is destined, like its predecessor, to become a classic.