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Wild Thorns (Interlink World Fiction) Paperback – September 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Wild Thorns ($12.95 paperback original; Jan.; 208 pp.; 1-56656-336-4). An earnest Arabic novel, first published in 1976, that dramatizes the reactions of Palestinian nationalists to Israeli occupation of the West Bank, an action that has turned many of their countrymen into nomads dutifully commuting to alien territory to work ( . . . the people had become soft, been brainwashed with lies and Israeli cash). Khalifehs initial focus on Usama, a young Palestinian returned home to find his relatives compromised in this way, yields to more diffused depictions of several other characters with whom he finds himself conspiring to blow up buses transporting day-workers. The conspiracy raises havoc with the storys formal unity but does enable it to portray credibly a troubling spectrum of understandably extreme responses to disenfranchisement and oppression. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


Wild Thorns is a chronicle of everyday Arab life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. With its panorama of characters and unsentimental portrayals of everyday life, Wild Thorns is the first Arab novel to give a true picture of social and personal relations under the occupation. Wild Thorns is convincing, with a sincere and uncompromising honesty, there is a rich emotional texture pleading elegantly for the cause of survival in the face of oppression. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group Inc (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566563364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566563369
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By AA on November 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The events of this book take place in the Israeli occupied West Bank in the early 1970's, about 5 years after the Six Day War of 1967. Usama, a young Palestinian returns to his homeland after few years of working abroad. The return story includes tales of humiliation at the border crossing. Usama is shocked by the changes around him, he came back to fight the occupation and struggles with the idea that Adil, his cousin and best friend has actually given up the family farm and is working as a laborer in Israel proper, "inside". The reality of his people under the occupation, eating "their" bread, working in "their" factories and learning "their" words was incomprehensible to him.
The way Sahar Khalifeh presented the changes in the Palestinian society during the first few years of the occupation was very illuminating and original. Here we see a highly polarized society, the Palestinians working abroad in the oil states, the Palestinians working "inside", the "intellectuals", the upper and middle classes, of whom, some "collaborated" and others refused to. Tremendous tensions described in a very real and human way, with little attempt to support one group of Palestinians over another.
Adil, is by far the most sympathetic character in the novel. He works tirelessly to support his family; he does however resent his father, and gets drunk to wash it all away. A classic war of the classes, the father fights by talking to western media, would never approve of his son working "inside" yet he does not approve of Usama or his youngest son breaking the laws of the Israeli occupation. Adil, the son, works diligently to improve the condition of fellow laborers and fights for their rights within the Israeli law.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have always considered myself a dedicated sympathiser to the Palestinian cause, I have always had my doubts as to how to categorise in my mind those Palestinians referred to as "Arab Israelis" and those who accept to work 'inside'. With this book I have learned of my total ignorance on the subject of occupation, and Ms. Khalifeh has taught me a valuable lesson: it is impossible to draw this conflict in black and white. The shades of grey in this novel render the reality from within all the more tragic. Never before have i empathised so with this most unbelievable of injustices, one of the heaviest burdens to be placed squarely on the conscience of all nations and most of their citizens. I am sure that anyone who reads this book will be robbed of his or her ability to view the current developments with cold indifference.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elbert D. Porter on July 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Guess what? Palestinians are people, too. If that sentence makes you angry, then you probably won't want to read this book -- but if you're willing to read with an open mind, you may come away from the book with an enriched understanding of "the other side." On the other hand, even if you already are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, but from the remote perspective of news reports, then this book will make it all more real to you.
The tale is already twenty-six years old, set just a few years into the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Written by a Palestinian, about Palestinians, it is sympathetic to them, but it's not a propaganda piece. We get only rare glimpses of Israelis in this book, but when they do appear, they are shown in the same humane light that shines on the main characters. When a five year old Syrian boy meets his imprisoned father for the first time, the Israeli guards turn away with tears in their eyes. This is not the only scene in which someone on one side of the conflict responds compassionately to the suffering of someone on the other side.
Parents and grandparents want their boys and young men to study and become professionals with good incomes, and they hope for their daughters to marry successful daughters. Men struggle to feed their families and to negotiate a little self respect in spite of the compromises they find themselves making. Other men (and boys) alternate between pride, fear, and shame as they try to respond to the humiliations and oppression of their people with costly courage.
One of the great functions of literature is to let the reader walk in another's shoes. That is what I had in mind when I chose to read this book. I have not been disappointed.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on August 29, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very grateful to a friend in your Customer Service Department for recommending this book to me. It is an authentic account of life in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, ringing true as only someone who had been there can make it. This siutation, between Palestinians and Israelis remains a powder keg today, and doubtless much of the Western world is uninformed about it, except for what the newspapers tell them. The book illustrates most vividly how hate, war, violence, and ignorance are destroying everyone, regardless of the side they take. There are not just two sides here; the author presents the situation in all its complexities and really makes the reader think. Most people in the book are just trying to survive and are not being allowed to. This has happened again and again throughout history, but the novel is a highly vivid and relevant description of how continuing intolerance will result in destruction for everyone. It is particularly relevant for U.S. readers, due to recent terrorist acts in this country (such as the World Trade Center Bombing). One of the main characters is a Palestinian terrorist. No one can afford not to try to understand where he is coming from. The author has done an outstanding job and the book should be more publicized.
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