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The Human Condition in the Middle East
on August 17, 2014
As a scholar on an NEH Institute on the topic "Arabic Literature in Translation" I studied this book and subsequently taught it in a high school humanities classroom. As the senior classes in TAG AP literature approached graduation, one student asked for my desk copy as a souvenir, and I gladly gave it to him before I also "graduated" to retirement. Now, over a decade later, I was searching for another copy and was elated to be able to buy a paperback copy at such a reasonable price. At this time of relative ignorance of the history of many parts of the Middle East and its myriad histories and populations, I am still impressed by the metafictional insights and perspectives that such a small book can give the reader. In addition, the language of the translation is amazingly lovely and poetic, yet clear and meaningful. Despite its compact size, it calls for multiple readings: once for the breathtaking personal stories and scenic descriptions, and at least two more to annotate the contrasting historically political perceptions of human beings who lived the times.