From Publishers Weekly
First published in 1998 in Arabic by a Beirut publisher, and then translated into Hebrew and French, this book was Le Monde Diplomatique
's Book of the Year in 2002; Khoury's ambitious, provocative, and insightful novel now arrives in the U.S. Well researched, deeply imagined, expressively written and overtly nostalgic, the book uses the lyrical flashback style of 1001 Arabian Nights
to tell stories of Palestine. At a makeshift hospital in the Shatila refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut, Dr. Khalil sits by the bed of his gravely ill, unconscious friend and patient, Yunes, a Palestinian fighter, and reminisces about their lives in an attempt to bring him back to consciousness. The collage of stories that emerges, ranging from the war of 1948 to the present, doesn't have a clear beginning or end, but narrows the dizzying scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to comprehensible names and faces, including sympathetically tough and pragmatic women. Davies has translated Naguib Mahfouz and does a nice job with the lyrical, outsized text. Khoury, born in 1948 in Beirut, has authored 11 other novels (The Little Mountain
and The Kingdom of Strangers
are available in translation) and published numerous essays; he now teaches at NYU each spring. A film version of the book was shown in New York in 2004.
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List Muse's Top 100 Novels of All Time, #68
Because the world is the way it is, because whole groups of people can be maligned, neglected, ignored, for too many years, we need the voice of Elias Khoury—detailed, exquisite, humane—more than ever. Read him. Without fail, read him. —Naomi Shihab
Nye Elias Khoury . . . is an artist giving voice to rooted exiles and trapped refugees, to dissolving boundaries and changing identities, to radical demands and new languages. From this perspective Khoury’s work bids Mahfouz an inevitable and yet profoundly respectful farewell. —Edward Said
There has been powerful fiction about Palestinians and by Palestinians, but few have held to the light the myths, tales and rumors of both Israel and the Arabs with such discerning compassion. In Humphrey Davies' sparely poetic translation, Gate of the Sunis an imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork. —New York Times Book Review
In Gate of the Sun a character dreams of writing a ‘book without a beginning or end...an epic of the Palestinian people,’ based on the stories of every village, and starting from the ‘great expulsion of 1948.’ Elias Khoury’s monumental novel is in a sense that groundbreaking book. —The Guardian (UK)