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Does one honor one’s country or one’s heart? Malka Marom explores this classic dilemma in her stunningly powerful first novel, an extraordinary tale of people caught up in a violent and seemingly endless historical conflict, compelled by love and grief to transcend it.
Sulha tells the story of Leora, who, twenty years after her husband was killed in the Sinai War, is empowered by law to decide whether or not to allow her only son to serve high-risk duty as his father did. As Abraham was so severely tested, so is Leora with her son’s fate in her hands. Charged with this burden, Leora leaves her uneasy exile in Toronto and ventures to Sinai.
In the remote and treacherous mountain region of Sinai, Leora encounters a Bedouin clan, which offers her a glimpse of the other: the mysterious Arab world that so fascinated her as a child, the enemy that her son might face. And, indeed, mounting danger and mystery pervade the air of the Bedouin compound. But are these people really the enemy? Is sulha — forgiveness, reconciliation, peace — not possible here? The modern Israel to which Leora then travels offers no clear answers and a deep enmity towards her. To her former compatriots, she is the other — outsider, exile, even a deserter from the land to which her husband gave his life to defend.
Sulha is the story of one woman’s search for the answer to her son’s future, and through it the reconciliation of her own fragmented past. In the process, it explores the interlocking and sometimes irreconcilable boundaries of love and loyalty — to a person, a people, a land.
This updated ebook edition of Sulha has been enhanced with an extensively annotated appendix of photographs taken by the author while she lived and roamed the desert with the Bedouins, as well as a series of questions designed as conversation starters for book clubs.
- ECW Press, January 2013
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