The three works by Salman Natour that are brought together here in a novel lead the reader through unfamiliar—sometimes hidden—paths of the country, the homeland, and memory. The three parts lay before us a map we never knew: spaces that coil within each other as if by magic, because of the illusions of overt and covert time. The path from Daliyat el-Carmel to Paris passes through al-Hiriya, and the path between Nazareth and Nablus passes through London and Rome. This is the journey to what is Jewish, what is Arab, and what is between them. Al-Quds and Jerusalem, Beisan and Beit She’an, Haifa and Heifa. The stories that arise, one climbing on the back of the other—with restraint, irony, and humor, but also with pain—together form an exceptional cultural treasure for those in the country and those who dream about it.
Salman Natour (1949–2016), one of the prominent Arab-Palestinian intellectuals in Israel, was a writer, playwright, editor, and translator. Among his many roles, he was the editor of the cultural supplement of the daily al-Ittihad, the editor of the monthly al-Jadid for literature and art, and the editor of the journal Qadaya Israeliya, published in Ramallah. He wrote more than thirty books and translated many works from Arabic to Hebrew and from Hebrew to Arabic. He also served as the secretary-general of the Arab Writers Union in Israel. Salman Natour was born in Daliyat el-Carmel and lived there all his life.
Maktoob is a unique series of books consisting of translations to Hebrew of Arabic literature. The project is the initiative of translators and scholars of Arabic, both Jews and Palestinians, and it is the product of a group of Arabic-Hebrew translators that came together at the Van leer Jerusalem Institute. The project aims to bring the Arab world and the lives of its inhabitants to the Hebrew reader—with a human perspective that derives from the desire to create a different sociopolitical horizon—while overcoming the obstacle of language and the weakening and disappearance of contacts between Jews and Arabs and between Jews and Arabic. We seek to enable the Hebrew reader to become familiar with different, unmediated voices from throughout the Middle East, voices that represent a range of views and attitudes. And all this stems from the recognition of the crucial importance of allowing the Arab voice—the breathing, living, critical, angry, and loving voice—to be heard in Hebrew. The series is published with the cooperation of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Payis Council for Culture and the Arts, and Olam Hadash Publishing.