In her novel "Tantouria", the late writer Radwa Ashour: "How can a small or large book endure thousands of corpses? Blood destiny. How much rubble? Dread?" But books manage to do so, to carry this weight between their lines, as words have their own power, which infuse the gray truths with blood, so that they become the color of death, which you cannot look away from.

The facts of history sometimes remain numbers and abstract information, and words that do not exceed in our minds more than the sounds of their letters, until you see them in the eye and shake your conscience, to transform the word "massacre" from mere sounds, meem, zal, ba, h, and taa marbouta, without pulse or life to a real massacre, calling for scenes of blood, screaming and wailing, and the victims of massacres turn from mere numbers to human beings of flesh, blood and wasted lives. Thus, art and literature in particular play an important role in understanding, vision, and thus resistance. Below we review a group of the most prominent novels that dealt with the Palestinian cause in its various aspects, historical and humanitarian.

Bab Al Shams: Elias Khoury

"War alone does not need graves, war is a grave, war does not need shrines and tombstones, war is a shrine itself, even the camp, what is the camp? It is the tomb of Palestine."

(Lyas Khoury, Bab Al Shams)

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The novel "Bab al-Shams" is one of the most prominent novels that dealt with the Palestinian cause, its first edition was published in 1998 by Dar Al-Adab, and translated into several languages, and it was ranked among the best hundred Arabic novels in the twentieth century according to the list of the Arab Writers Union, as presented by the Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah in a two-part film.

In more than five hundred pages, the Lebanese writer Elias Khoury paints an epic picture of the Palestinian narrative, extending from the events of the Great Arab Revolt in 1936 until the early nineties of the last century, through the events of the Nakba and the diaspora, the events of the Lebanese civil war, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and Black September, in an elusive construction in which he moves through time between the present and the past. The novel is narrated by Dr. Khalil, who cares for his spiritual father, the fighter Younis al-Assadi, in the hospital after he fell into a dying coma. Khalil believes that communicating with him through the story is able to heal him and bring him back to life, and so he takes us through the pages, between the past and the story of Younis and his wife Nahila, and the present, Khalil and his beloved Shams, who was killed and whose blood is scattered between the clans.

Between the two stories, we learn about the Palestine resistance, the events of the Nakba, its scenes in a number of Palestinian villages, and the harshness of life in refugee camps. Relying on the stream of consciousness, the narrator tells his stories, and the tales he received from Yunus before he went into his coma, Elias Khoury relied in his novel on a huge number of testimonies that he collected from the camps, so the novel came alive, with flesh and blood characters full of dozens of stories that resemble mosaics in a large painting full of pain.

Tantouria: Radwa Ashour

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History will never forgive that bloody night of May 1948, which endured a new tragedy about a month after the Deir Yassin massacre, this time in the Palestinian village of Tantura, but differs in that it happened at the hands of the army of the nascent occupation state, not its gangs, and about one week after the declaration of its establishment. That night, nearly three hundred people were killed and buried in mass graves, now located under the parking lot of what is known as "Moshav d'Or Beach".

In her novel published in Dar Al-Shorouk in 2010, Radwa Ashour reviews the story through her narrator, Roqaya, a survivor of that massacre, in which she lost her mother and two brothers. The events review the few months preceding the Nakba, daily life under desperate resistance, and fearful anticipation, passing through the events of the Tantura massacre, then Ruqayya's departure from her village to the diaspora stage between her life in Lebanon, the events of the civil war, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the narrator takes us through Sidon, Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Alexandria, and back again to Sidon, reviewing the crisis of the Palestinian presence in the diaspora, in a journey that spanned three generations.

Men in the Sun: Ghassan Kanafani

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"Why didn't they knock on the walls of the tank?"

(Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun)

A question posed by the Palestinian writer and poet Ghassan Kanafani in his short novel "Men in the Sun", which has become one of the most famous and prominent novels dealing with the Palestinian cause, and is also one of the most prominent novels of his project, which revolves most of his work in the context of the art of resistance, between novels, stories, poems, articles, paintings and critical studies, a project worth stopping at long despite the martyrdom of Ghassan Kanafani at an early age, when he was assassinated by Israeli intelligence in July 1972. Among his most notable works are "Return to Haifa", "um Saad", "Land of Sad Oranges", and "Men in the Sun", which we chose in our list.

Unlike the previous two novels, this novel is short, set in less than 90 pages. It was first published in 1963 in Beirut, and its events were presented in a Syrian-produced film entitled "The Deceived" by Egyptian director Tawfiq Saleh, which won the Golden Award at the Carthage Festival for Arab and African Films in 1973.

Through four pivotal figures, Ghassan Kanafani leads us to witness how the cruelty and hardship of living in the camps prompted three men to flee to Iraq and from there to Kuwait, where they saw the job opportunities they saw as their savior from the harsh conditions. The three agree with a smuggler named Abu al-Khayzran to smuggle them into a truck carrying an empty water tank across the desert. But the march is disrupted at one of the checkpoints and the three men inside the tank die from the heat. The novel concludes with the symbolic question of resistance as an essential act in the face of death, with Abu al-Khazran asking: "Why didn't they knock on the walls of the tank?"

Lanterns of the King of Galilee: Ibrahim Nasrallah

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We cannot address the novels that deal with the Palestinian issue without stopping at the project of the Palestinian novelist and poet Ibrahim Nasrallah, known as the "Palestinian Comedy", a project that the writer began working on since 1985, and its narrative structure extended to cover more than two and a half centuries of Palestinian history. The reader does not need to follow the novels and read them in chronological order or in the order of their publication, as each novel is independent of its events, characters, time and narrative structure, and among the most prominent Palestinian comedy novels is "The Lanterns of the King of Galilee".

"Every man will become a hero when he roams the streets, as he pleases, without anyone getting in his way, undermining his dignity, stealing anyone's food, tampering with anyone's life, or restricting his freedom. The tournament is when a woman walks alone, and everyone loves her, because she is a champion on both sides of the spectrums of hundreds of heroines and heroes. I want a people full of heroes, not a people of fear between these two Bahrains: the Sea of Galilee and the Sea of Acre. The real tournament is to be so safe that you don't need any other tournament."

(Lanterns of the King of Galilee, Ibrahim Nasrallah)

The novel is the seventh chronological order of publication, but the first in terms of the time of events. The first edition was published in 2011, and its events extend between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between 1689-1775 in more than five hundred pages of large pieces, in which it returns to tell the story of Zahir al-Omar al-Zaidani, who rebelled against Ottoman rule and is believed to have sought to establish the first Arab national state in the modern national concept in Palestine.

Ibrahim Nasrallah leans on history, but pours into it from his imagination to transform historical figures into flesh and blood figures, through which he restores the roots of identity that extend deep into history, in a poetic language and structure that touches history, myth and the lives of heroes.

The Time of White Horses: Ibrahim Nasrallah

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The sixth novel of the Palestinian Comedy Project was published in 2017 in conjunction with the approach of the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba, and reached the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction "Booker" in 2009, and was also translated into English, and the author worked to turn it into a script for a television series directed by Hatem Ali, but the project stopped and did not take place.

The novel takes place over a period of about 130 years, extending from the end of the nineteenth century until the Nakba, in an epic novel of the historical Palestinian presence linked to the land, through which the writer chronicles the Palestinian situation from the time of the Ottomans until the Nakba, through a wonderful tight narrative that prompted many critics to call it the "Palestinian Iliad". The action takes place in the village of Al-Hadia, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, from the late Ottoman rule of Palestine until the Nakba in 1948, over three sections: wind, dust, and humans. Through an epic narrative of the events accompanying the end of the Ottoman rule of Palestine, the entry into the British occupation, the stage of the spread of Zionist gangs, settlements and resistance, and even the Nakba, with all the historical complexities surrounding this stage, through a family biography that extends for three generations, through the tales of humans and horses, where we get to know the epic hero Khaled and his story with his horse, with all its symbolic connotations.

In addition to the richness of the novelist world, the novel is full of margins that shed light on a large number of historical events, for anyone who wanted to know this important historical period.

Triple bells

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"When revolutionaries trade their revolutions for promises, they lose everything, I don't know how they accepted to trade work, hope, anger and dream for promises. Martha, we will desire a day when we starve, chase, imprison and kill, and prefer it to a day when we do nothing but wait for them to do us justice. Marta, no one will do us justice if we don't do justice to ourselves."

(Tank under the Christmas tree)

The Bell Trilogy combines three relatively short Palestinian comedy novels: "Shadows of the Keys", "A Tank Under the Christmas Tree" and "Sirat Ain". In "Shadows of the Keys", set from 1947 to 1987, the novel follows the repeated encounters between a Palestinian woman named um Jasser and Nahum, a teenage Israeli soldier who later becomes the commander of one of the occupation army battalions. They meet for the first time in 1948 when Nahum was a teenage soldier who took refuge in a bird's nest in a farm, and despite all the massacres committed by the occupation soldiers, um Jasser refuses to kill him, after he took refuge in her house, especially because he was the age of her son Jasser. They meet again in 1967 during the setback, and then one last time in 1987 at the beginning of the intifada, and Nahum became commander of a battalion of the occupation army.

While "Sirat Ain" depicts the story of the pioneering Palestinian photographer Karima Abboud, who was born in 1893 and died in the early forties of the last century and managed to break into the field of photography, to gain a leading position in Palestine and the Arab world, after this field was exclusive to men. "A Tank Under a Christmas Tree" follows events from World War I to the First Intifada over several generations, set in the village of Beit Sahour, following a love story in which emotions are mixed with music and art, with resistance against the British Mandate and the beginnings of the Zionist presence.

The strange facts of the disappearance of Saeed Abi Al-Nahs: Emile Habibi

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This novel is located in a different and distinctive position among the various novels that dealt with the events of the Palestinian cause, whether in terms of a structure that mixes modernist fantasy, Palestinian folk tales and inspiration from the oral and written Arab heritage, or at the level of treatment, as it focused on the conditions of Palestinians who were forced to coexist within the borders of the occupation state.

The novel is set in the words of Saeed Abi Al-Nahs Al-Mutashael, which is a word in which the words pessimistic and optimistic are mixed, just as feelings, events and contradictions are mixed in the daily life of the Palestinian. The events are sequenced by the narrator in the style of separate letters, tracing his life in three sections bearing the names of the three women in his life, repeated, remained, and the second is repeated, in a clear symbolism of the concepts of return and survival in the land.

The narrator gives up from the beginning, chooses the attitude of a pacified snitch and cooperates with the invaders. The strange nature of the novel may not suit some readers, but it is considered one of the most important Arabic novels, and its reading gives different dimensions to reading reality through bitter irony and complex fantasy.

Hot Spring: Sahar Khalifa

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In her novel "Hot Spring" (2004), the Palestinian novelist Sahar Khalifa explores the transformations of Palestinian society with the second intifada, by observing a family of the second generation of the Palestinian diaspora, through the story of the brothers Ahmed and Majeed, the events begin with two children who are preoccupied with their daily lives, and far from public affairs, but their lives are soon turned upside down, after the arrest of the younger brother and the eldest involvement in events related to the siege of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

The youngest turns to work as a rescue worker injured in invasions, and the eldest to a reporter. The novel deals with the struggle of women in Palestinian society, the changes in society after the Oslo Accords, politicians' preoccupation with the people with their own ambitions, and the delicate human aspect of the relations that arise between Palestinians and settlers, which are quickly aborted by harsh reality. The novel has been translated into a number of languages and succeeded in achieving great resonance outside and inside the Arab world.

Source : Al Jazeera