A Beggar at Damascus GateA Beggar at Damascus Gate

Yasmin Zahran

Novel
ISBN: 978-0-942996-24-1 • $12.95 • 158 pp.
1995

 Purchase from Small Press Distribution


“The Palestinian writer and archeology scholar, Yasmine Zahran’s second novel stitches together the twentieth-century struggle of Palestinians for a place to call home and the ancient worlds of their ancestors. (…) A Beggar joins a growing number of works written in English by bilingual Arabs, whether Arab-Americans, members of European societies, citizens or subjects of states in the Arab world, or Palestinians in exile, with no home state to return to, like Zahran.  Such works are an exciting addition to both Arabic and English literature, for they embody the geographic/linguistic/cultural multiplicity that is a marker of postmodern experience.  They demonstrate to readers of English—who have hardly had a critical mass of easily available Arabic literary works in translation to explore—that Arab societies are not the isolated “strange” sites they so often appear in stereotype, and that Arab writers are helping to shape the Englishes of the next century.”
—Marilyn Booth for World Literature Today; Winter 1997 Issue

“Cold and alone in an ancient Palestinian village, a travelling archeologist finds the threads of a narrative that will direct his life for the coming decade. Its characters are a Palestinian woman and an English man, each deeply commited to the conflicting demands of love and national loyalties. As the narrator slowly pieces together the fate of two unfortunate lovers, he also uncovers a tale of treachery, duplicity and passion that highlights the contemporary plight of the enormous number of displaced Palestinians. Their final resolution surprises them both and reveals a depth to their committments that neither had previously realized.”
—Cole Swensen


Yasmin Zahran was born in 1933 in Ramallah, Palestine. She was educated at Colombia University, New York, and the University of London, and received a doctorate in archaeology at the Sorbonne, Paris.  She worked for UNESCO for a number of years and established, directed, and taught at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology in Jerusalem. She divides her time between Paris and Ramallah, where she writes and researches, besides travelling extensively to visit archaeological sites.