[This book’s] style and method—the interplay of text and photos, the mixture of genres, modes, styles—do not tell a consecutive story, nor do they constitute a political essay. Since the main features of our present existence are dispossession, dispersion, and yet also a kind of power incommensurate with our stateless exile, I believe that essentially unconventional, hybrid, and fragmentary forms of expression should be used to represent us… [O]ur truest reality is expressed in the way we cross over from one place to another. We are migrants and perhaps hybrids in, but not of, any situation in which we find ourselves. This is the deepest continuity of our lives as a nation in exile and constantly on the move.
–Edward Said, After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (with photographer Jean Mohr)
[Darwish] offers us a multivocal text that resembles a broken mirror, reassembled to present the viewer with vying possibilities of clarity and fracture. On the page different kinds of writing converge: the poem, both verse and prose; dialogue; Scripture; history; myth; myth in the guise of history; narrative fiction; literary criticism; and dream visions. Each segment can stand on its own, yet each acquires a relational or a dialectical meaning, a history, that is contingent upon the context provided for it by all the other segments of the work. … Suspended between wholeness and fracture, the text, like Palestine, is a crossroads of competing meanings.
–Translator Ibrahim Muhawi, on Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982
Instead of the loud, direct tone of other literary writings that denounce aggression and glorify resistance, Habiby manages to accomplish the same with wit, irony, sarcasm, ridicule, over-simplified candor, understatement, double meaning, paradoxes, puns, and play on words.
–Salma Khadra Jayyusi on Emile Habiby, The Secret Life of Saeed, the Ill-Fated Pessoptimist