Publisher: Just World Books
Published Date : 07 April 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1935982401

Book Author(s):

Leila Abdelrazaq

Review by:

Noor Ahmed

“It was believed that their stories would be lost, that the old would die and the young would forget. This book is a testament to the fact that we have not forgotten.”

Adorned with Palestinian embroidery, a tapestry of history, Baddawi, is decorated with intricate designs as cartoons map historical events. Leila Abdelrazaq manages to explore her father’s childhood in the 60s and 70s, colouring Palestinian heritage not only with experiences and traditions, but also in the art.

Baddawi is the story of a Palestinian boy, the story of every Palestinian boy, battling between trying to find a place in this world and trying to live. Set in a refugee camp in northern Lebanon, the plight of thousands of Palestinians is covered as they flee their homeland in an arresting cartoon.

Using a child’s voice, the stories of past events are captured. The simplistic manner in which the book is written both blunts down catastrophes and compounds them at the same time. The 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, the 1967 Naksa, setback, the PLO uprising against the Lebanese army, all bound in black and white ink portrays a stark contrast to the simple dreams and doubts captured by Ahmad, the Palestinian refugee in Baddawi camp, northern Lebanon.

Scenes flicker past as life continues despite the war, only pausing when the war directly interfers. We see acquaintances slowly bleed off the pages as bombs fall; people that have just been introduced are gone just as quickly. The speed in which the reader gains and loses people gives no time to mourn but results in melancholia, a sense of bewilderment at the senseless tragedies.

At times, the cartoons sufficed and no words were necessary. Pictures of people living their life are on one side of the cartoon strip and then in contrast, rubble of demolished buildings with a single title: The cluster bombs.

Overall, Baddawi is an easy read, if simple, with poignant reminders of a history long overlooked, a people forgotten as the day to day politics distracts us from the essence of the story and the impact it’s had on the individual lives. The opening preface of the book talks about it being a reminder, that though the old may have died, the young didn’t and they will not forget, and this book is that in every sense.

Winners of the Palestine Book Awards

  • They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl's Fight for Freedom
  • I Sing From the Window of Exile
  • Imagining Palestine: Cultures of Exile and National Identity
  • Transnational Palestine: Migration and the Right of Return before 1948
  • Among the Almond Trees: A Palestinian Memoir
  • Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza
  • Tolerance Is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial
  • Reclaiming Humanity in Palestinian Hunger Strikes : Revolutionary Subjectivity and Decolonizing the Body
  • Psychoanalysis under occupation: practicing resistance in Palestine
  • Power born of dreams: my story is palestine
  • Al-Haq: A Global History of the First Palestinian Human Rights Organization
  • Sambac Beneath Unlikely Skies
  • Places of Mind: A life of Edward Said
  • Except for Palestine: The limits of progressive politics
  • A history of Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Faith, awareness, and revolution in the middle east
  • Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands
  • Against the Loveless World
  • The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
  • Life in a Country Album
  •  There Where You Are Not