Aziz Shehadeh was many things: lawyer, activist, and political detainee. He was also the father of author and activist Raja. In this memoir, Raja Shehadeh unpicks the snags and complexities of their relationship.
It is here that the book finds its tragically imperfect fulfillment of the wistful title: The painstaking diligence of the father’s work is reciprocated by the son’s unwavering attentiveness. It is a friendship of sorts ... The author refuses to get distracted by sentimentality or easy answers. He writes in a prose that is sober, spare and matter-of-fact, like a man conscious of the scarcity of time and the risk of being interrupted ... A quiet and deeply felt book that illustrates how being dispossessed and being occupied are not merely legal or political conditions, but, perhaps more profoundly, psychological and emotional ones too.
A powerful rebuttal of the current attempt to sever today’s situation in Palestine from its roots ... His new memoir distils these sprawling themes into a personal and political struggle for justice. It’s a mark of Shehadeh’s brilliance that this latest revisiting is full of surprises: it’s even in tone, but jet-fuelled by implicit emotion; there’s no conventional suspense, but it is absolutely gripping ... Shehadeh’s writing is clear and pared-back; it wears its power lightly. But his masterly, remorseless selection and accumulation of detail builds an unanswerable case against Palestine’s historic and current oppressors. It also, finally, re-establishes the relationship that is the memoir’s emotional centre of gravity.
As a young man Raja failed to recognise his father’s courage. Nor did Aziz appreciate Raja’s efforts to campaign for human rights ... This book is full of retrospective thought-provoking parallels between his own experience and his father’s.