Ishmael’s Oranges – Claire Hajaj

The novel follows the life of Salim Al-Ishmaeli from Jaffa to England to Kuwait and back again. When he meets Jude, whose Jewish heritage goes back to Russia’s pogroms, they defy the narrative of hatred with their love.

Salim believes he can re-invent himself and shake off his Arab past. Unfortunately he can never rid himself of the ghosts of memory and the past holds a pull which will eventually lead him to forget his present with his family. Salim’s inner struggle impacts on his relationship with Jude and the lines between the oppressor and victim start to blur.

A heartbreaking read with moments of hope and optimism. Β I love that the author has skillfully and poignantly brought both the Jewish and Arab narratives together in this novel.

Quotes that stayed with me:
– ‘What’s fair in this life?’ she said, her voice low. ‘Not even God is fair. Β Only fools say different – but you’ll learn, Salim. If a man wants something, he must find his own way.’

– ‘Something to live on, not just dreams. It was all very well for them to say. Β But what was life worth, once all the dreams have become dust?’

– ‘Had there been just one body between us on that journey, we would not have met, and all the things that flowed from that meeting would not have been. God did that for me, so I can almost forgive Him the rest.’

-Khalida Moosa (@rosybic)

 

Who IS Khalida Moosa?

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Khalida Moosa is a stay-at-home mom who has little inclination for cooking, sewing or baking. She is a wordsmith and loves the musicality and rhythm of the written word. She is also an avid reader and enjoys sharing good reads.

Khalida is interested in narratives which defy social norms. She is attracted to writers who break boundaries around issues which address gender inequality, sex and cultural stereotypes.

She has an obsession with collecting beautiful notebooks which remain ink unstained and instead accumulates bits of paper stringing thoughts into sentences.
When not reading, writing or gardening, Khalida enjoys spending time with her husband, two kids and much adored Scottish terrier.

You can connect with her on Twitter @rosybic

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