You can read 9 more articles this month
The Sea Cloak
by Nayrouz Qarmout
(Comma Press, £9.99)
WHAT is daily life really like in Gaza? Most of us see on our screens the chaos, fear and destruction at fairly frequent intervals when the Israeli government releases the full power of the IDF on its prisoners but few can imagine the reality of living in that prison.
This first collection of short stories by journalist, women’s rights campaigner and Gaza resident Nayrouz Qarmout achieves what televised images and impartial newspaper reports cannot reach.
There is no polemic in these sharply etched moments in the lives of children and young women surviving as normally as possible in a world where the surreal has become the reality.
The author moves from elegiac reveries in opening story The Sea Cloak, where an unnamed girl longs for the freedoms of her childhood and an escape from the scolding severity of her family, suddenly afraid of their neighbourhoods scorn, to Pen and Notebook, which captures the vibrant resilience of three young brothers daily journeying with their donkey cart to sort and collect the stones from bombed buildings essential for their family’s survival.
There is surely a biographical element in The Long Braid, where a young activist has to face her teacher who tells her: “You’re wasting your time with this nonsense! You’re better than this. There’s no such thing as a patriotic song, you know! All songs are degenerate; your only loyalty is to God, to your religion.”
Qarmout conveys both the underlying tensions that society faces when Israeli drones can bring instant death from the skies and those of young women who look out at a modern world which conflicts with familial social and religious conventions.
It is no surprise that the Israeli authorities did their utmost to prevent Qarmout from introducing her book at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival.
Their fear was not simply that audiences might learn more of their repression but that here is evidence that however hard they may make life for Gazans, they will never drive them from their home.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.