Birzeit professor publishes novel detailing Palestinian life before 1948

Safi Safi, a professor of physics at Birzeit University, launched his latest novel, “Al-Tayeh” (The Lost), in a ceremony held at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum, Ramallah, on Sunday, July 21, 2019. 

Featuring Sharif Kanaana, a researcher and professor of anthropology who previously taught at Birzeit University, the ceremony focused on the novel and how it ties into Safi’s previous work.

In “Al-Tayeh ” − which can be translated as “lost” or “wanderer” and was written over a span of five years − Safi chronicles the fate of characters from Bayt Nabala, using them as representatives of the Palestinians who lived in villages destroyed by Israel in the 1948 Nakba. 

“This novel discusses what happened to Palestinian villages, their communities, and traditional customs and culture in 1948 and beyond,” Safi explains. “It tells the story of not only Bayt Nabala but also the 400 other towns and villages that were devastated during the dispersion of the Palestinian population and the occupation of their ancestral land.”

The novel was published by Al Nasher Advertising Company in Ramallah and Al Dar Al Ahlia for Publishing & Distribution in Amman, Jordan. 

With his family coming originally from Bayt Nabala, Safi was born in Beitillu, a village northwest of Ramallah, in 1955. He studied physics at Birzeit University and continued his postgraduate education at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He has published eight novels (all in Arabic language): “Al-Haj Ismael” in 1990, “Al-Holom Al Masrouq” (The Stolen Dream) in 1991, “Al Su’oud Thanya” (Ascending Again) in 1994, “Alyaseera” (Easy) in 1996, “Shihab” in 2001, “Al Kurba” (The Curve) in 2005, “Sama, Sama, and Samia” in 2010, and “Al-Batel” (The Wicked) in 2017.