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Palestinian Poetry, Culture & the Politics of History: Adina Hoffman on Taha Muhammad Ali

Major New Biography Tells Palestinian and Israeli Stories in the tradition of The Lemon Tree

Among the world's great poets, Taha Muhammad Ali is an extraordinary man—a little-known but highly original poet whose work has captivated some of the world's best writers. Some would describe him a self-educated peasant who takes nearly as much pride in his Nazareth souvenir shop as in his poetry—a survivor shaped by both the complete destruction of his childhood village and the unabashed delight he takes in his art.

Adina Hoffman is a Jewish American writer who has lived in Jerusalem for sixteen years. She is a respected essayist, critic, editor, and publisher whose sense of the world has been shaped by a life spent in both the U.S. and the Middle East.

Her new book My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness (Yale University Press, April 2009) not only recounts Taha Muhamad Ali's life story, but also reveals much about other Palestinian poets and writers of his generation, including Mahmoud Darwish, Samih al-Qasim, Michel Haddad, Emile Habiby and Rashid Hussein. Along the way, "My Happiness" reads like a detective novel—with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past sixty years making fascinating background. Hoffman does the work of a historian and journalist as she scours every available resource to find out whatever she can about her subjects. Very little of this information has been available in any language but Arabic until now.

Yale University Press marks National Poetry Month with the publication of Hoffman's remarkable biography of Taha Muhammad Ali, a book that defies both categories and stereotypes. The first biography of a Palestinian writer to be published in English, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century brings to light a fascinating literary world, captures with nuance and feeling a community scarred by conflict and yet brimming with life, and tells with honesty and courage a story whose vague outlines are known by all but whose human realities are often buried by politics and distance. Read more.

Adina Hoffman will read from and discuss her book at Levantine Cultural Center on Wednesday, April 15, 7-9 pm. Ms. Hoffman will autograph copies of her biography, available for purchase at the center. Space is limited and advance RSVPs are suggested. Call 310.657.5511.

Adina Hoffman on Taha Muhammad Ali

Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035-2657
Tel: 310.657.5511
Fax: 310.657.5522

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