Author(s): Susan Abulhawa
It is 1947, and Beit Daras, a quiet village in Palestine, surrounded by olive groves, is home to the Baraka family. Eldest daughter Nazmiyeh looks after her widowed mother, prone to wandering and strange outbursts, while her brother Mamdouh tends to the village bees. Their younger sister, Marian, with her striking mismatched eyes, spends her days talking to imaginary friends, and writing. When Israeli forces gather outside the town's borders, nobody suspects the terror that is about to descend. Soon the village is burning, and amidst smoke and ash, the family set out on the long road to Gaza, in a walk that will test them to their limits, with consequences that will echo throughout generations. Sixty years later, Mamdouh's granddaughter Nur is living in America. She falls in love with a married man, a doctor who works in Palestine and follows him to Gaza. There she meets Alwan, the mother of Khaled - a boy trapped in his own body, unable to wake up from a deep blue dream. It is through her that Nur will at last discover the ties of kinship that transcend distance - and even death. Spanning generations and continents, The Blue Between Sky and Water is a story of powerful, flawed women; of relocation, separation and heartache; of renewal, family, endurance, and love. Susan Abulhawa brings a raw humanity and delicate authority to the story of Palestine in this devastatingly beautiful tale.
From the author of the international bestseller Mornings in Jenin comes a powerful, passionate story of a family separated by conflict, and the tragedy they must endure to be reunited
The story Susan Abulhawa tells in this marvellous novel is hard to bear but impossible to ignore. Through four generations of a Palestinian family, The Blue Between Sky and Water shows how history's assault on each person is public, and how it nevertheless cannot extinguish the private experience of grief or the secret sense of eros. Abulhawa's vision is precise, courageous, and dazzling Teju Cole Not only a story about displacement. It takes in love, hatred, sex, rape, survival, death, loss and belonging. It is full of celebratory dances, partying on the beach, mourning, fear, mysteries, dirty jokes and national heroism ... In true Thousand and One Nights style, Abulhawa surprises us by continually unfolding new stories. It is as if she is casting the fortunes of her characters while moving with them through the episodes of Middle East traumas ... Characters struggle to keep their secrets, but Abulhawa releases them. These are secrets we need to know, secrets that will educate us about ourselves, and Gaza -- Atef Abu Saif Guardian Gripping and deeply moving ... Suffering and resilience are difficult things to witness, but this powerful, politically engaged novel does so with a transformative literary grace. Abulhawa's prose is luminous; her control of a complex weaving of narrative voices - young and old, male and female, magical and real - is masterful. The novel provides an intimate close-up of the women of Gaza and of the everyday heroism amid relentless loss -- Margie Orford Independent on Sunday She is a fine observer of female kinship ... A powerful read Financial Times I cried ... the thing I found particularly remarkable was how it portrayed tragedy on a huge scale and a small scale as well. It was very human -- Eugenia Cheng BBC Radio 3 Terrific ... A gripping novel wonderfully written, a book which stays with you and moves you, peopled by larger than life characters ... There is nothing self-pitying about this book, it is fierce and powerful and deeply moving, you will want to read it again and again Marxist Review Susan has taken different routes this time and there are no continuous shifts of first person to third person narrative as she did in her first. Her prose moves smoothly like a sledge on an icy surface. The style has also changed a bit and this is more literary and less ornamental The Hindu
Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the Six Day War of 1967, when her family's land was seized and Israel captured what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem. She moved to the USA as a teenager, graduated in biomedical science and established a career in medical science. In July 2001, she founded Playgrounds for Palestine, a children's organisation dedicated to upholding The Right to Play for Palestinian children, and her essays and political commentaries have appeared in print and international news media. Her debut novel, Mornings in Jenin, was an international bestseller. She lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter.