Ramallah -

“No, this is not my story. It is the story of a wall that decided to choose me as a witness to what it says and does. The wall has given me all my characteristics and titles since the beginning of the journey, in the camp on the fringes of the city, in the prison, in the heart of a woman or on its outskirts.”

With these words, the prisoner Nasser Abu Srour summed up his novel “The Story of a Wall” with its contradictions of faith and disappointment, the broadening of the horizon of freedom and the narrowness of the wall, the identification of love and its abandonment, in a realistic embodiment of the Palestinian refugee, revolutionary fighter and prisoner, son and lover.

The novel, which was recently published by the Lebanese House of Arts - and was among the publisher's nominations for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for the best work of fiction for the year 2023 - came in two parts, the first tells about asylum, birth, revolution, struggle and imprisonment, and all the victories, confusion and setbacks that accompanied it, during which it linked the private and the public, The second is about the space of hope with a love that was born on the prison wall and freed the conscience of its owner from his captivity, before his end was written on the same wall.

Part of the evening of the release of the novel, the story of a wall of the prisoner Nasser Abu Sorour (Al Jazeera)

Nasser's biography

The novel is as close to an autobiography as Nasser, who was born in 1969 and lived in Aida camp between the cities of Bethlehem and Beit Jala. During his studies in English literature at the university in early 1993, he and his companions carried out an operation targeting an Israeli officer, after which he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. .

While in prison, he managed to finish his university studies and complete a master's degree in regional studies, and he published a poetry collection entitled "On Prison and Other Things".

Nasser chooses asylum for his family from his original town - Beit Natif, near the city of Hebron in the occupied interior - the beginning of the story.

The family's journey continues, passing through to the city of Bethlehem;

A refugee in a camp tent surrounded on all four sides, then the father's marriage to "Maziuna", the daughter of the village, who turned into a "tent housewife" when she was only 14 years old.

The mother Mazyona - to whom the writer dedicated his novel - has a large presence in the novel, which was signed by her name "Nasser Mazyuna Abu Srour".

Mazyouna, who was adorned with a Palestinian dress embroidered with red silk that she hid on the day of Nasser's release, endured the hardships of a long journey at checkpoints to reach Ramallah and participate in the evening of signing the novel. Dozens of camp women shared her joy.

Mazyona says to Al Jazeera Net, "I was prevented from visiting him for 7 years, I cried until my eyes dried up."

Mazyona, the mother of the captive Nasser Abu Sorour (right) holding a picture of her captive son (Al-Jazeera)

Camp… the first wall

The camp in Nasser’s life has its area, and he is the fifth child in a family that has suffered from asylum in all its details, and he only knew from outside his world a wall of city houses that surrounded the camp and turned its back on him.

Despite his curiosity that brought him out as a teenager, Nasser remained in the camp wherever he went without being able to catch a time and place for him. He says, "The camp's novel is a text that has no time or place... He writes his own novel, doing as much as he can."

His mother says, "Nasser always blamed his father for leaving his village and living in the camp, and whenever his father asked him to calm down for fear of arrest, he would reply that he would not stay in the camp forever, and that he would not calm down before he fulfilled his dream of returning."

From the talk of the camp and the refugee father who keeps blaming himself for what he did not plant in his land before his emigration, Nasser arrives at the first intifada, which he seized and joined as the first opportunity to confront the occupation in an organized way to achieve the dream of return.

The prisoner Nasser Abu Sorour (social networking sites)

Not only him, but all the camp residents wanted to return, he says in the events of the novel, "The camp saw in the uprising a historic moment, and a crisis pregnant with opportunities that, if managed well and exploited its components, would open the gates closed in its face."

This uprising, which created the generation of stones of which Nasser was one, also made them "issues owners" that he monitored with all its transformations, since its outbreak in 1987 until the beginning of the disappointments before his arrest in 1993, and its end in the Oslo Agreement signed in the same year after his arrest.

In his novel, Nasser does not provide the details of his arrest and its reason, skipping over it to the investigation period, which he summarizes for its difficulty: “In the investigation department, you are everything, and nothing is you.”

The novel "The Story of a Wall" by readers on the sidelines of its signature evening (Al-Jazeera)

Broken dreams of freedom

Although the prisons witnessed, in the years following the signing of the Oslo Accords, the release of many prisoners, Nasser was one of the prisoners who were in the last batches that Israel retracted.

Nasser lived for 29 years in the prisons of the occupation, during which she witnessed many transformations, the most important of which was the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, which he considered a reset of the Palestinian scene, at the hands of a generation that the peace agreements tried to separate from its cause. We expected it."

Nasser remained haunted by the hope of freedom, and the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and the resistance 2011 was an occasion to revive him, but it quickly faded after Israel refused to release the old prisoners.

In 2013, hope was renewed again, after an agreement with the Palestinian Authority stipulating the return of negotiations in exchange for the release of former prisoners in 4 installments separated by two months each.

Indeed, the implementation of the agreement began, and Nasser was among the third batch that was released on the last day of 2013, but the occupation changed his name hours ago, so that Nasser and 29 former prisoners remain in prisons to this day, after Israel retracted the release of the fourth and final batch.

Nasser describes the scene of anticipation that he and the rest of the prisoners experienced by saying, "Either there is life after him, or he is hung on a wall of fire."

love and abandon

What pulled Nasser out of this fire at the time was a lawyer who was led by chance to visit him and fall in love with him later, and despite his certainty that the experience of love would not be completed, and that he would inevitably hit barriers, he lived it with all the details of the experience, until the end was after 3 years.

Issa Qaraqe, the writer and director of the National Library that oversaw the printing of the novel and organizing the evening, says that what the novel presents is a human story of a prisoner that surpassed the concept of prison wanted by the occupation.

Writer Issa Qaraqi, speaking about the novel on the evening of its signature (Al Jazeera)

The humanity of the novel and its global discourse are what qualified it to be nominated for an important award, Qaraqi told Al Jazeera Net, in a clear indication that the issue of Palestinian prisoners is a global humanitarian issue.

Perhaps what distinguishes this novel from other prison literature, Qaraqe says, is the prisoner’s isolation for 29 years from the outside, and the developments, events and changes that accompanied it were not clear in the novel, which confirms that the prisoner worked hard to keep pace with everything that is happening in the world and not On the Palestinian arena only.

This diligence in keeping pace with a world he no longer lives outside the Wall;

He presented to the reader a novel that summarizes Palestine, its cause, its people, its struggles and its disappointments, in 343 pages, "the ruggedness of reading".