Anyway. Last week we went to northeastern Oregon, and I was without a book about this area.
Dalia Ashkenazi's family fled Europe after World War II, just as Bashir Al Khayri's family were forced out of their home in Palestine. Dalia grows up in Bashir's abandoned home, and from the time he knocks on the door when she is 19 years old until decades later when they're both in their 60's, the moral conflict of what is right and what is wrong becomes clouded.
So I find myself reading this book about exile on the very site of one of the darkest and most shameful episodes in US history: the banishing of Chief Joseph's Nez Perce people from their homeland in 1877.
This plaque is on a tiny piece of land deeded over to the Nez Perce at the edge of Wallowa, Oregon: Respect this place, yourself, and all that come here.
As I absorbed the somber quality of the Nez Perce homeland, I couldn't help but think about Palestine. Turns out I was reading something completely appropriate to northeastern Oregon after all, nonfiction to boot. I did like the book, but-predictably- the most riveting parts are the actual encounters between Dalia and Bashir. Their dialog nurtures a slight hope that the mobius strip of problems in the middle east might work out to a peaceful end after all.
But like the homeland of the Nez Perce, whatever happens in the future, there will always be a deep and abiding sadness from the past.
To see what others have been reading this month, check out the Cephalopod Coffeehouse at Armchair Squid.