Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two Families, one home

The Lemon Tree, written by Sandy Tolan in 2007, traces 2 real families' personal experiences on opposite sides of the Palestinian/Israeli divide. Based entirely on interviews and primary sources including archives and diaries , it imagines nothing which has not been documented.

The Khairi family of Palestinian Arabs were displaced in 1948 after the Israeli/Arab war leading to the independence of Israel from the house they had built in the village of al-Ramla many years before. The Eshkanazi family, refugees from Bulgaria, moved into the vacant house and raised their daughter there, while the Khairis dreamed of returning. The book recounts how the grown children of each family develop a relationship spanning many years after Bashir Khairi comes knocking on the door. They come to respect one another and try hard to understand the other's point of view, but ultimately cannot agree.

It is painful to watch the Khairis' longing to return, with Bashir spending years in prison for his activities. Here in the US home is often portable; we move, settle in new places, build lives there. The Lemon Tree gives us a window into a culture and circumstance where this seems impossible.

There is so much more here, detail about political developments which provide the background needed to understand the unfolding of events. It's a sad recounting of the micro effects of larger changes.

1 comment:

  1. We are currently reading your novel the lemon tree and are very much so enjoying it. My classmates and are getting a much greater understand with the aid of your novel. I love how you give the inside story with as nonbiased view point as humanly possible. As I started through it I wondered how and/where you would find such inspiration and influence to start a book on the matter on the previous conflicts in Israel.