A Rebel in Gaza is a love letter to an unloved place […] a sparkling memoir. […] Asmaa al-Ghoul, who was born in the Rafah refugee camp at the southern end of the Strip, writes with clarity and tenderness of [Gaza’s harsh] realities. […] Despite it all, she insists: “People continued to laugh in Gaza.” Her own laughter bubbles through the pages of A Rebel in Gaza: a stubborn, defiant joy in living, as keen as her rage or her grief.
In a foreword, [Al-]Ghoul writes of her eagerness to avoid “the prevailing clichés” that might confine her narrative. The usual smeary lenses through which the region is viewed are blessedly absent. There are many villains and few heroes, but even the villains are decent sometimes. Ghoul is equally allergic to pieties. In an early chapter, she commits the cardinal heresy of admitting that she has no desire to return to the village from which her grandmother fled in 1948 and considers the refugee camp in which she was born to be her only homeland.
The world would be poorer without [Al-]Ghoul’s voice, without her warmth, her fury and her laughter.
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