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February 22 @ 7:00 pm
City Lights and Stanford University Press present
Sami Hermez in an evening of conversation
celebrating the publication of
My Brother, My Land: A Story From Palestine
by Sami Hermez with Sireen Sawalha
Published by Redwood Press/Stanford University Press
In 1967, Sireen Sawalha’s mother, with her young children, walked back to Palestine against the traffic of exile. My Brother, My Land is the story of Sireen’s family in the decades that followed and their lives in the Palestinian village of Kufr Ra’i. From Sireen’s early life growing up in the shadow of the ’67 War and her family’s work as farmers caring for their land, to the involvement of her brother Iyad in armed resistance in the First and Second Intifada, Sami Hermez, with Sireen Sawalha, crafts a rich story of intertwining voices, mixing genres of oral history, memoir, and creative nonfiction.
Through the lives of the Sawalha family, and the story of Iyad’s involvement in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hermez confronts readers with the politics and complexities of armed resistance and the ethical tensions and contradictions that arise, as well as with the dispossession and suffocation of people living under occupation and their ordinary lives in such times. Whether this story leaves readers discomforted, angry, or empowered, they will certainly emerge with a deeper understanding of the Palestinian predicament.
Sami Hermez is an anthropologist and teaches at Northwestern University in Qatar. He is the author of War Is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon (2017). His work in and out of the classroom reflects a strong commitment to freedom, justice, and equality. His family’s history of migration spans the Levant, with roots in Al-Qosh, Aleppo, Beirut, and Jerusalem. Sami lives in Doha with his family.
What has been said about “My Brother, My Land”
“A powerful, gripping, disturbing account of the struggle for dignity and freedom. Through a single family in a West Bank village, the entire tragic dispossession of Palestine unfolds: Israel’s brutal military occupation; militant Islamic resistance; a litany of funerals where few are spared; a family scattered, with the sumud, or steadfastness, to maintain their dream of liberation.”
—Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree
“A breathtaking display of literary prowess that tells the story of an entire homeland through the frame of one woman’s life. Sami Hermez expertly weaves together different perspectives and narratives, all the while handling the delicate gift of the Sawalha family story with precision and care.”
—Hala Alyan, author of Salt Houses
“My Brother, My Land challenges anyone who wishes to see Palestinians as mere victims without agency. Telling an individual history of Palestine since the Nakba, it sheds light on how inhuman dispossession and oppression have been met with solidarity, kindness, and above all love. A heartbreaking story, but also one that leaves hope for a continued, just struggle until full liberation comes.”
—Ilan Pappé, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Ten Myths About Israel
“My Brother, My Land does more than simply humanize the Palestinian people, their struggle, and the difficult choices they often undergo to survive and resist the Israeli military occupation. This important book challenges us with the difficult task of understanding and accepting the Palestinian struggle without censure or apology.”
—Ramzy Baroud, author of My Father Was a Freedom Fighter
“A masterful story about one West Bank Palestinian family, My Brother, My Land uncovers how colonial rule helps shape ruthless violence, resistance and betrayal, but also devotion and love, intimacy and loss. Reading this book, I laughed and cried, felt unsettled, disturbed, and inspired—I could not put it down.”
—Neve Gordon, author of Israel’s Occupation
“This beautifully written book is both a deeply personal story and a textured social history, weaving intricate and intimate details of a Palestinian family’s life with the collective Palestinian narrative. Sami Hermez’s combined use of his voice and Sireen’s demonstrates a collaborative, ethical, and engaged way in which to record oral testimonies.”
—Yara Hawari, author of The Stone House
“In My Brother, My Land, we are brought into close relationship with Sireen, an eager narrator of a remarkable, yet emblematic story of one Palestinian family, and Sami Hermez, a dedicated witness, committed to Palestinian freedom. A work of intergenerational truth-telling, this book encapsulatesin written formthe tradition of Palestinian steadfastness.”
—Noura Erakat, author of Justice for Some
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.