Book Review: In the Presence of Absence

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"In The Presence of Absence" by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago)

How is one supposed to feel at home while living in exile, or to buzz with life when death is ringing the doorbell? In this easily digestible, recently translated lyrical prose poem, Palestine’s national poet explores life’s endless dualities.

Written in the tradition of wisdom scripture, it is a deathbed epistle to the author’s younger self, singing of living a life of engaged reflection. Or, as Darwish puts it, “Remember yourself / before all turns to dust / so that you may grow up.”

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