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A Rift in Time: Travels with My Ottoman Uncle

The quest for his great-uncle Najib Nassar, an Ottoman journalist - the details of his life, and the route of his great escape from occupied Palestine - consumed award-winning writer Raja Shehadeh for two years. As he traces Najib's footsteps, he discovers that today it would be impossible to flee the cage that Palestine has become.

A Rift in Time is a family memoir written in luminescent prose, but it is also a reflection on how Palestine - in particular the disputed Jordan Rift Valley - has been transformed. Most of Palestine's history and that of its people is buried deep in the ground: whole villages have disappeared and names have been erased from the map. Yet by seeing the bigger picture of the landscape and the unending struggle for freedom as Shehadeh does, it is still possible to look towards a better future, free from Israeli or Ottoman oppression.


Raja Shehadeh is the author of When the Bulbul Stopped Singing, Strangers in the House, described by the Economist as "distinctive and truly impressive," and Palestinian Walks, for which he won the 2008 Orwell Prize. Shehadeh trained as a barrister in London and is a founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq. He lives in Ramallah, on the West Bank.


For more information and to read an excerpt of the novel, please visit:

21 April 2011, 12:15 PM
Room 208, Knox Hall
606 West 122nd Street
Columbia University