Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry
From Pantheon Books:
Set in Jaffa in between 1947 and 1951, this “fable-like historical novel of young love … darkly humorous and touching …” (Oprah Daily) is based on a true story during the beginning of the destruction of Palestine and displacement of its people.
At times darkly humorous and ironic but also profoundly moving, this novel based on a true story, follows the lives of a gifted 15-year-old mechanic, Subhi, and 13-year-old Shams, a peasant girl he hopes to marry one day. At first we see the prosperous life of this cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean—with its old cinemas, lively cafes and brothels, open air markets, a bustling port and Jaffa’s world famous orange groves—through the lives of the families of Subhi and Shams, but particularly through Subhi.
As the story evolves, the indiscriminate bombing of Jaffa and the displacements of Palestinian families begin, and we get a fascinating though dark close-up of how those who remained survived. This novel is a cinematic, though devastating, account of one of the most dramatic and least known chapters of Palestinian history.
It is a portrait of a city and a people irrevocably changed.