Exodus of the Storks – Walid Nabhan (Translated by Albert Gatt)
Nabil, a Palestinian exile who has made his life on the Mediterranean island of Malta, has his equilibrium shattered when he receives a phone call telling him that his father has died in Jordan. This news releases a flood of memories centered on the unending tragedy of the Arab world. As he reflects on his father’s death Nabil is forced to confront his Palestinian roots. Born in 1967, he was involved in the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians at the end of the Six-Day War. Like so many of these displaced and disenfranchised people, his family spent years moving around the Middle East, including neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. And when Nabil finally settles on Malta he discovers in its hybrid culture of east and west a pale shadow of home. Nabil’s meditations expand to encompass the entire Arab world, with its colonial past, its postcolonial legacy, its fragmentation, human suffering and political turmoil. Part stream of consciousness and part history of the Middle East, Exodus of the Storks is an ambitious literary achievement, as Walid Nabhan movingly evokes the Arab experience. It is a novel for our times of international upheaval and displacement.