Walking in the Palestinian Hills

Most would consider the hills of Palestine and the nearby Gaza Strip and West Bank areas more suitable for armchair travels than real ones, and that means that Raja Shehadeh’s Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape is set up just right. Shehadeh has lived in the region for most of his life and knows it well; he is in a good position to tell the stories he tells throughout this book.

The book is structured by “walks” – six of them, in fact, starting back in the 1970s and covering different areas of the Palestine hills under ever differing circumstances. What struck me was the beauty of the area, which is very well described, and something that an outside is usually not privvy to. The different companions that Shehadeh takes on his walks, along with the varying conversations and incidents that ensue, tell both a travel tale and a political one.

Palestinian Walks was the winner of the Orwell Prize in 2008 and has received much critical acclaim around the world. Anyone interested in this conflict-drowned area might like to read other works by Shehadeh, who has also written about life in Ramallah under siege and occupied Palestine in general.