Being There, Being Here

Being There, Being Here

Maurice Ebileeni

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Twenty percent of Palestinians―1.57 million Israeli citizens and over seven hundred thousand exiles and immigrants around the world―live in Europe and the Americas, participating daily in languages and cultures other than Arabic. The dispersion of Palestinians and the consequent diversity of experiences running through three generations since the Nabka of 1948 have significantly dispelled a sense of cultural homogeneity. This cultural diversification is powerfully reflected in literature as an increasing number of Palestinians are writing in Hebrew, English, Spanish, Italian, and Danish, among other languages.

Being There, Being Here, Ebileeni calls for a renewed definition of Palestinian writing, one that includes Anglophone, Nordic, Latinate, and Hebrew language literary works into the national canon. The relevance of studying Palestinian writings composed in languages other than Arabic is grounded in the tension between the idea of remaining loyal to a more-or-less fixed national narrative and the desire to understand the ongoing lingual and cultural proliferations of the Palestinian story.

The concept of "homeland" remains inextricable to Palestinian experiences notwithstanding generation and location, but, it may not necessarily connote to the notion of home for those who were born and raised in the West. Although most of the works discussed here are steeped in the historic injustices committed against Palestinians, Ebileeni’s intention is to unsettle this foundation for the purpose of yielding a richer and fuller understanding of Palestinian literary texts.


Takes the reader on a multifaceted journey through land, continents and languages as these intertwine with Palestinian authors' perceptions, imaginings and affinities to Palestine. - "Middle East Monitor"

In addition to his meticulously attentive readings of these authors, who are 'speaking in tongues' about his own personal predicament as a second-generation immigrant, Ebileeni is redrawing, in effect, the discursive boundaries of what constitutes 'Palestinian literature' in the first place. If nothing else, this seems to be the singular and glowing contribution of this ingenious and path-breaking study. - "Anton Shammas, University of Michigan"

Political, engaged with national displacement, and expressing multiple polylingual sites of production, Ebileeni's excellent book positions itself at the crossroads of these productive tensions and tells the story of expanding trajectories of literary development. This is Palestinian literary criticism at its best. - "Bashir Abu-Manneh, University of Kent"

Being There, Being Here is an engaged and engaging treatment of Palestinian literature in languages other than Arabic....It is bound to stir discussions and debates within the fields of Palestinian literature and cultural studies, as well as politics and history; yet also outside it. - "Shai Ginsburg, Duke University"

Original and provocative, Being There, Being Here is an important contribution to both comparative literature and Palestine studies. With keen insight into the historical and textual legacies of exile and diaspora, Ebileeni reminds us that being Palestinian is about much more than being in Palestine. - "Lital Levy, Princeton University"

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