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In the Presence of Absence Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


A major poet, near death, meditating in lyric prose on all that he has lost: freedom, homeland, childhood, love. In this moving translation, Sinan Antoon generously invites the English-speaking reader into the immensity—and metaphysical subtlety—of Darwish’s grief. —Richard Sieburth

The truest of poets... In the Presence of Absence is a book possessed of a remarkable and enduring beauty. —Chuck Wachtel

Beautiful... inescapably lyrical. —Bookslut

Mahmoud Darwish [is] perhaps the foremost Palestinian poet of last century. —Tablet

There are two maps of Palestine that politicians will never manage to forfeit: the one kept in the memories of Palestinian refugees, and that which is drawn by Darwish’s poetry. —Anton Shammas

Then came silence. Mahmoud Darwish began to read. We did not know a word of Arabic, but we heard his voice reach out and sink deep down to pluck the strings of the Palestinian soul. It was a magical night in Ramallah, the magician, Mahmoud Darwish, whose spell was cast the way it has been through ages--simply by being that elusive archetype, much envied and feared by power—a poet at ease with, because attuned to, his own people. —Wole Soyinka

Mahmoud Darwish is one of the greatest poets of our time. In his poetry Palestine becomes the map of the human soul. —Elias Khoury

Darwish is the premier poetic voice of the Palestinian people... lyrical, imagistic, plaintive, haunting, always passionate, and elegant--and never anything less than free—what he would dream for all his people. —Naomi Shihab Nye

[A] unique achievement... It offers costly wisdoms from a life journey, rendered in the opaque lyricism of Darwish's poetry...His is the voice of dispossessed Palestine but its longings, including sheer lust, are universal. This book overflows with resonant lines and questions... It is a book for life. —The Independent

About the Author

Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) was born in the village of al-Birwa, in the Galilee, Palestine. He became a refugee at age seven. He worked as a journalist and editor in Haifa and left to study in Moscow in 1970. His exilic journey took him to Cairo, Beirut, Tunis, Paris, Amman, and Ramallah, where he settled in 1995. He is one of the most celebrated and revered poets in the Arab world. He published more than thirty books, and his poetry has been translated into thirty-five languages. Darwish was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by France in 1993, was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2001, the Prince Claus Awardin 2004, and the Cairo Prize for Arabic Poetry in 2007.

Sinan Antoon is an Iraqi poet, novelist, and translator. His co-translation of Darwish’s poetry was nominated for the PEN Translation Prize in 2004. He is the author of The Baghdad Blues, I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody, and The Pomegranate Alone. He is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature at New York University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Tra edition (November 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935744011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744016
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Saba on November 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is very difficult to describe because it is truly a masterpiece. Mahmoud Darwish has outdone himself in this beautiful book, it is even hard to believe that he wrote it before he died because it discussed such sensitive and critical and complex feelings and theories. I also assure you that this is the best translation you will find of the book, the translation is simply magnificent and it's obvious how much hard work has been put into it, bringing out all the features Darwish was aiming to bring out precisely and with great detail.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Shannon on September 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deep. Tugs at the heart.
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