Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
In the mode of J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, In the Cemetery of the Orange Trees engages poetic language, mythic themes, and childlike perspectives to offer an original approach to a conflict that has become hardened and polarized. These linked stories of an American’s experience in Gaza expose the seven-decade long Palestinian diaspora in a disquieting allegory of the clash between the occupied and the occupier. In a place where political posturing, bloody war, journalistic witness, and even patient negotiation have yielded so little understanding, we enter the cemetery of the orange trees, where urchins kite dead birds, goats utter wisdom, camels and donkeys huddle together, and merchandise magically passes underground through the tunnels of Gaza. But this is no fairy tale or bestiary. In the Cemetery of the Orange Trees is a waking, attentive dream-journal, leading us back to a place where hatred, strife, and even human language itself might sing.
Jeff Talarigo is the author of two novels: The Pearl Diver and The Ginseng Hunter. He has lived in Gaza and Japan, and currently resides in Oakland, California.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
So That We Never Forget 17
A Two Cigarette Story 27
The Night Guardian of the Goat 37
A Three Cigarette Story 53
The Boy Who Sold Martyrs 61
A Four Cigarette Story 83
My Father, the Mole 97
Border Shearing 119
As Far As One Can Go 167
What People are Saying About This
"Thanks be to Jeff Talarigo for his immense humanity, his literary gift for imaginative presence and witness, his absorption, creation and weaving of pungent stories which make Palestine/Gaza feel as haunting and real as they truly are. Here we feel, in potent, amplified form, the sorrowing presences of our extended human families who suffered outrageous injustice for whole generations, and it still goes on. Jeff is a crucial witness: what he does in this exquisite, mysterious text is make a whole world come alive."Naomi Shihab Nye, Habibi and 19 Varieties of Gazelle
Jeff Talarigo's storyteller prefaces his stories with a warning: "We are all exaggerators of the truth, stretchers of stories, sometimes outright liars even. But our exaggerations, our stretches, our lies, are ours and that is why we must believe them, for they are the only things we can call our own." In the Cemetery of the Orange Trees is a collection of such stories of decades of strife and life in the Gaza region. The stories are told in the manner of Aesop or Orwell, allegorically and mythologically familiar, but in Talarigo's prose they soar. Violence, inhumanity and sadness are challenged by hope, forgiveness, appreciation, loyalty, and rebellion. And we must believe them.
David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States
"As much a book of poetry as a novel, as much a symphony as a memoir, this is an extraordinary book from a writer at the top of his powers. Reminiscent of Berger and Calvino, Jeff Talarigo manages to capture the breadth and circumference of story-telling, while also giving us a privileged insight into the daily life and dreams of Gaza."Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
"What Jeff Talarigo has accomplished here is quite remarkable. In the Cemetery of the Orange Trees captures with poignancy and precision the harrowing effect of the Occupation on the lives of those who endure it. In the terms of the novel itself, I would rate this a 'five cigarette' story."James Shapiro, Professor of English, Columbia University