Cover Image: The Parisian

The Parisian

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Member Reviews

This book has received some high praise and its easy to understand why. For a debut novel, the author shows real skill in drawing the reader in to the turbulent and tragic events during the post World War I period in Palestine. The conflicting Factions are sensitively portrayed and pretty even handedly. I learned a lot about Palestine and I was particularly impressed with the way the author shows the characters in their normal day to day struggles with love, family, relationships and work. 
It is too easy for us in the west to see the Middle East and the people there as a problem. We don’t necessarily see the human beings caught up in the situation, who are essentially just the same as us. 
I felt shame at the role that Britain and France played in drawing arbitrary lines, ignoring centuries of history and treating the population as some kind of playthings, without real intelligence, culture or pride.  We have to shoulder a huge amount of blame for instability and resentment that festers today. 

In spite of all the commendable things about this book, I’m afraid I still found it difficult to warm to many of the characters. I found Midhal a very self absorbed, weak person. I would have preferred to have known much more about Jamil’s story. 
My thanks to Netgalley for this copy.
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A young man undertakes a journey to France to study and expand his way of life, which is to make, but also disrupt his expectations. His journey from a troubled and splintered Middle East, and back again takes place in a setting of war in Europe and family ties necessitating a return home.. Oppression and foreign interference has formed this area, where tribal and cultural boundaries clash, and mass immigration threatens stability and promises war.
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Sometimes I write reviews that praise books for keeping me reading through the night and then sometimes there are books that you read slowly because you don't want them to end - this is one such.

This debut novel by a young London writer tells the story of Midhat Kamal, a wealthy medical student in Paris,  who “knew the names of his internal organs as ‘le poumon’ and ‘le coeur’ and ‘le cerveau’ and ‘l’encéphale’ ” but never feels quite at home in France. When he returns to his native Nablus, events feel a little unreal and distant at first, such is his nature - but his life, his relationships, his beliefs are turned upside-down time and again. Midhat's journey is set against the story of Palestine in the early C20th and, as Zadie Smith has said: "everything that happens feels not so much imagined as ordained". 
Hammad covers a great swathe of history whilst making this an intimate journey for one man - it tells one story, but it tells the many stories of Palestine.
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An epic historical novel that covers an area of history I didn't know anything about. The main character, Midhat, ties the history together as he grows and loves and lives in Europe and in Palestine. An amazing novel and fascinating. A world away from our own yet the same worries and feelings prevail no matter wherever and whenever you live. An enjoyable and fascinating book.
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This is a beautiful story set in France and Palestine in the period from 1914 to just before the start of the Second World War .It tells the story of Midhat Kamal who is sent to  France from Nablus,in what was Palestine to study medicine.He lodges with a French doctor and his daughter ,Jeanette,but following a doomed love affair with her,leaves to continue his studies in Paris where he meets a group who are trying to make the case for an independent state of Palestine.
He eventually returns home and  the book continues with the story of his life through marriage and children,with a plot development which is heartbreakingly sad in places.Midhat is a very sympathetic character whose life never quite works out as he hopes,but ultimately leaves the reader content.
This is a sweeping tale on a grand scale,outlining the complex history of the events that eventually lead to the creation of the state of Israel and the rebellion of the Palestinian people against the British.At times I found the historical details quite hard to follow and felt that there was sometimes too much of it,but ultimately I enjoyed the book,mainly because of the central character.
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