'Remember The Past, Remember Marjayoun, Remember Who You Are' Isber's House, Anthony Shadid
Note: Anthony Shadid died in Syria on February 16, 2012. He was reporting on the war as it took place. May he rest in peace.
One year ago on March 16, 2011, Anthony and three colleagues had been detained in Libya and suffered imprisonment and beatings until they were released a few days later. Mr. Shadid understood that danger was always around the corner. Anthony Shadid is a two time Pulitzer Prize journalist for the New York Times.
In this book, Anthony Shadid tells us of his family history and the generational home in Majayoun, Lebanon. This is an estate built by his great-grandfather, and Anthony returned to Marjayoun and rebuilt this home for himself, his family and the generations of relatives who had died and those yet to come. He owned but a small piece of this house, but he felt a need to rejuvenate his soul and this new home. This is a mostly loving tale of the resurrection of this home, and the obstacles and issues that everyone who re-builds a home relates in sad and funny detail. We learn of Anthony's immediate family and his life in Oklahoma, Boston and New York City.
Life in Lebanon today is not easy. Anthony Shadid takes us to his homeland, and we get to meet his neighbors, the physician he befriends, the workers Abu Jean, in particular, who are hired to rebuild the home. Everyone tells him that this is not just his home, and people will take advantage of him. It matters not, Anthony feels a great need to be part of his heritage.
Anthony Shadid was part of the Arabic world. His job as a journalist was to observe and record the day to day life of the world in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and Syria. He knew the area, he had been arrested and had lived in this area for many years. He had a daughter in the States, and he loved her immensely. He had met a new woman and had a son and was so happy. Before all of this new happiness, he was brought back to Marjayoun, and that is where the story begins and ends.
This was a remarkable book in many ways. Lebanon, the country has always been a curious place to most of us. A country we will never visit. Now, with Anthony Shadid's eyes and voice we are part of the world of these people. Their culture and as the house is rebuilt we revisit the past with Mr Shadid and the stories his relatives have to tell. Both Marjayoun and Anthony Shadid had come through a war and were tired and needed rejuvenation. This is his story, and a terrific story it is. It is so sad that this man has died at such a young age. He will go home but once again.
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