Ishmael's Oranges

Ishmael's Oranges[BOOKS] ✮ Ishmael's Oranges By Claire Hajaj – It’s April 1948 and war hangs over Jaffa One minute seven year old Salim is dreaming of taking his first harvest from the family’s orange tree; the next he is swept away into a life of exile and r It’s April and war hangs over Jaffa One minute seven year old Salim is dreaming of taking his first harvest from the family’s orange tree; the next he is swept away into a life of exile and rageSeeking a new beginning in swinging Sixties London Salim finds an unexpected love with Jude a troubled Jewish girl struggling with her own devastating family legacy The bond between them flourishes in the freedom of the age bringing the promise of thrilling new worlds But before long childhood conflicts and prejudices reawaken to infringe upon their life together pulling them and their children inexorably back towards the Middle East and its battlegroundsFrom Russia’s pogroms to the Summer of Love and the Middle East’s restless cities ' Ishmael’s Oranges' follows the journeys of men and women cast adrift by war to tell the story of two families spanning the crossroad events of modern times and of the legacy of hatred their children inherit. A goodreads giveaway bookA keen insight into the Jew Palestanian conflict and the way it affects human lives caught within itI couldn't help compare it to the The Almond tree by Michele Coran Corasanti which handles the same theme from a different point of view The Almond Tree book deals with the story of an Arab who battles poverty and the strife in the country to rise above his stature he makes his way to the US as a renowned professor and then comes back for his family who were unable to escape as he could Hajaj's story is about a Palestanian boy Salim and a Jewish girl Judith who are on the opposite sides of the strife They find love on neutral ground and attempt to build a life yet find their prejudices and differences constantly threatening their happinessThe GistAs a boy Salim flees his house forsaking his beloved orange tree in Jaffa when the war breaks out between the Jews and Palestanian Arabs To make matters worse his mother leaves the family too taking only their youngest sibling Rafan with her Years later Salim heads to London to pursue higher studies and falls in love with Judith with a story of her own Despite scepticism and stiff opposition they get married and start a new life away from Israel but eventually find themselves at crossroads confronting their past and prejudicesWhat worksThe characters come alive in the pages and win the empathy of the reader This need to break away from the strife when everything else reiterates their cultural notions is done uite wellThe story flows very well and offers a objective view and emotional repurcussions of the situation in Israel The narrative is powerful and the writing style is smoothWhat doesn'tThe pace is a bit slow in the beginning the letter in the beginning did not make sense till I read the end and then I had to read the beginning chapter again to make sense of it But that highlights explains the skill of the writer and credit to her for handling such a difficult subject with such tactIn a nutshell a great read well written and offers an interesting perspective on a conflict that needs to be documented in literature How can I start reviewing this book? It’s this kind of book that you end it with an ache in your heart I believe in this case because the story still continues in real life It’s a story of a boy with a kind heart who got lost in the life he grew up to live That’s a simplified version of the book But when the reason he is torn is the loss of a home and a mother the pain is magnified I really felt that Claire wrote this book from the heart from a pain she has endured This made me resonate with it and feel the pain too It’s one of those heavy must read books The premise of this book is pretty solid I was really looking forward to reading it However it failed to deliver I can’t uite understand why It maybe down to writing stylebut it was just too slow Disappointed This was a book I wanted to like In Part 1 we find out about the childhoods of Salim and Jude Salim who lost his family home in the Nakba and ends up in the UK Jude who is the child of jews who suffered greatly in Russian and Nazi pograms The two of them Salim the victim and Jude the child and grandchild of victims meet at university and fall in love There is strife with their families; mild strife not fully explored Salim seeks out his mother and younger brother a PLO supporter but realizes that he can't find his way back to an old idea of 'home' He returns to Jude and asserts that she is now 'home' for himPart 1 is competently written and a mix of solid if somewhat flat prose and occasional sections of beautiful writing Salim is a lot better written than Jude the uote on the cover of Salim's thoughts as he leave Jaffa is poignant and evocative Part 2 is six years later Salim and Jude are married with six year old twins and living in Kuwait That was a problem for me it seems so obviously a recipe for disaster for this couple that I would have liked to understand why they made the decision As well as living in Kuwait Salim has morphed into an abusive asshole insecure at work he can't hold down a job; he feels too English for the Arabs and too Arab for the English; he resents his Jewish wife and strives to hidedeny her culture; he bullies and ignores his children and judges his son for his fair colouring and for not being 'a man' He is simply a horrible man an awful husband and terrible father And Jude? She's a sweet little thing who keeps the peace she serves only to further highlight Salim's hatefulness Maybe all this is true I read some of Hajaj's interviews on line; she was raised in Kuwait and is estranged from her father BUT Salim in part 1 was essentially a decent and rather gentle soul and to simply present him as such a misogynistic monster without taking the reader through his transformation renders it unbelievable The rest of the book continues in this vein Salim gets involved with the PLO He effectively abandons his family and is especially hateful to his son And it all ends in tragedy2 stars ar for Part 1 only The rest of the book is one star This was surprisingly well written and realistic considering its initial premise of love between someone with Jewish roots and someone with Arabic Palestinian ones We know the premise is not impossible the author herself comes from such a mixed family and there are other examples as well Initially as readers we are a bit afraid the Oranges will turn uickly sour underneath a saccharine taste of artificial canned juice But it's not the case In fact it gets so life POV realistic I would hesitate to still label it a love story at least not in the romantic couple centered way the way the word love is currently coded first The story aims for a bittersweet ending the only part of it I found not very likely but many parts building up to it were plainly bitter Despite their best intentions people start behaving badly towards their immediate family for the sake of what their original family ties tell them it should be the right thing to do No matter how destructive and self destructive it is they can't seem to stop I think this rings true and bitter for many other people in the world beyond those caught in a multicultural landscape and conflictOf course that's not to say that the author doesn't succeed in painting a wonderful picture about the history of Palestine and the complicated fraught relations and fragile egos and prides involved there If you don't know much about the area and how it went down this is a great crash course as far as fiction is concerned I was thrilled to receive this book through a first reads giveaway and was engrossed from the very beginning Despite being a work of fiction it was a timely story to read as I began to follow on the nightly news the events that are presently occurring in Gaza The story of Salim a Palestinian and Jude a Jew is a love story that is almost cursed from the beginning as the two of them try to live a life together while creating a family away from the politics of racism war and hate It is a beautifully written book that is emotional poetic and deeply insightful The characters of Salim and Jude are sensitive realistic and believable with their own individual faults and insecurities The description of the city of Jaffa and its orange trees creates a heartfelt setting that is continually carried on throughout the book I finished reading Ishmael's Oranges but continued to contemplate the story long afterward as I found it to be a truly heart wrenching and meaningful read A story about a Jewish woman and a Palestinian man meeting and marrying hardly sounds like the recipe for a good read however what a treasure this proved to be Claire Hajaj draws on her own experience in writing this story of love and hate starting back in 1948 and coming almost right up to date this puts a new light on the troubles in the Middle East currently happening between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip Every emotion is covered in this story love hate happiness and sadness Beautifully written and a real education this should be a bestseller I feel this didn't live up to its potential This is a huge story to try to fit within the pages of one book and I don't feel it was done particularly well I think I read somewhere that this was inspired by the authors history being of Jewish and Palestinian descent At the end of the novel she speaks of being inspired by her mother which surprises me in some ways as the focus was very much on the father in this story and we only really get a superficial glimpse at mum as she forms a part of dad's story The mother's character wasn't really formed very well at all and the father was decidedly unlikeable There were moments in this story that I really enjoyed and sections that were well formed but overall it was a bit of a let down Review Ishmael’s Oranges by Claire Hajaj 35★'sI was captivated by the author’s writing and the emotions she described throughout the story The author’s storytelling of a journey of two separate cultures and family history heritages and their struggles to find their own self as an individual hangs in the air It’s an emotional journey of finding a true home and peace in oneself regardless of the define histories and identities in a part of the world that has been badgered with conflict for generationsThe story’s main character Salim is introduced in the beginning as a young boy in the city of Jaffa and the reader follows his path throughout his life Judit is also introduced in earlier chapters and we learn about her family history and heritage The union between these two characters is both compelling and heartbreaking The weakening of the two families and two cultures in opposition only brought on hostility Through the years a slow aching tragedy builds from a marriage of two young people one Palestinian the other Jewish The couple and their children are gradually ripped apart by loyalty and bloodline and they were at a crossing point for their future Salim who was educated in London wants to return to the land of his birth and continue with the family business running an orange grove Marc their son of mixed cultures rejects the Palestinian ways and wants to become a dancer Judit is unable to convince her husband of his obligation to raise a multi cultural family in harmony You can feel all the emotions that this story brings to the reader I loved this book and found it hard to put down It brings to life the complexity and the tragedy of the Middle East crisis I gained new insights into events that I had heard on the news but never really understood through the way that these affected Salim and Judith's familiesThe intensity and purity of the love of Sal and Jude as young students make the reader hope and believe that their love can overcome all the problems that a relationship between people of different faiths and backgrounds can raise; but can it? Claire Hajaj writes in such a way that we become emotionally involved with the characters some we love others we detest for coming between the couple trying so hard to overcome the 'legacy of hatred that they have inherited' It is hard to write much about this capivating book without spoilers but safe to say I will definitely be reading this again as I am sure it deserves than one visit It has also made me determined to learn about the Middle East and its history

Hardcover  ¶ Ishmael's Oranges eBook ¿
  • Hardcover
  • 336 pages
  • Ishmael's Oranges
  • Claire Hajaj
  • English
  • 09 February 2014
  • 9781780744940