Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Horse’s Wife - A Short Story by Ahlam Bsharat Translated by Emre Bennett - 2021 - Included in The Book of Ramallah- A City in Short Fiction- edited and introduced by Maya Abu Al-Hayat


The City of Ramallah, population about 70,000, is located in the West Bank area of Palestine, has become a focal point of world wide media This Anthology was published prior to the initiation of the current conflict. In the very informative elegant introduction Maya Abu Al-Hayat tells us the literary history of the city going back to the 16th century up to 2021. She has selected a quite diverse range of stories but each one is informed by the impact of violence brought upon the city from Isreal. The time eras of the stories range from the 1960s to 2021 so political arrangements may vary in stories.

One thing that has happened for 1000s of years is young men armed against much weaker opposition often turn into petty tyrants and sadists. This is magnified when those in authority dehumanise  the enemy.

Ahlam Bsharat’s story is set much closer to the present day, in the current pandemic, and the only one in the book set wholly indoors. It depicts the isolation of a woman who has left her village to work in Ramallah, now living alone in a flat in Umm Al-Sharayet, one of Ramallah’s more run-down neighbourhoods. Denied the love and companionship of an ordinary relationship, she embarks on an affair with a horse. In the surrealism of Bsharat’s well-woven tale we could be forgiven for thinking this love story is the city’s only reality.

Ahlam Bsharat is a Palestinian writer who grew up in a village in Northern Palestine. She completed her Master’s Degree in Arabic Literature at An-Najah National University in Nablus. Besides poetry, picture books, short stories, novels, and memoirs, she has written a number of television and radio scripts. Her books have received many awards and recommendations. Ismee Alharakee Farasha (Code Name: Butterfly) was included in the IBBY Honor List for 2012, a biennial selection of outstanding, recently published books from more than seventy countries. Ismee Alharakee Farasha and Ashjaar lil-Naas al-Ghaa’ibeen (Trees for the Absentees) were both runners up for the Etisalat Award For Children’s Arabic Literature in 2013. Code Name: Butterfly was shortlisted for the UK-based Palestine Book Awards in 2017.

Mel Ulm 

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

This sounds like a magical story born of unimaginable pain. (It also brings to mind Marian Engel's Canadian novel, Bear, and you'll probably be able to guess why, just from the title.)