I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Asa Winstanley‘s review of my new Leila Khaled biography is out on Electronic Intifada. After last week’s fuss from the Zionist mob, it’s nice to have some feedback from somebody who has actually read the book and can therefore confirm that it is not a ‘glamourisation of terrorism’. Actually, though, Susannah Tarbush tweeted a kind comment last week, saying this:
— susannah tarbush (@starbie99) May 18, 2012
Winstanley has some nice things to say about the biography:
The Electronic Intifada contributor Sarah Irving has set out to [address the absence of a biography of Khaled], and achieves it ably with this exciting little book, newly published by Pluto Press as part of its “Revolutionary Lives” series.
A major strength of the book is that its based mostly on primary source material: interviews with Khaled herself at her home in Amman, Jordan. Irving also dove into the archives, reading seemingly everything there was to be found in English on Khaled… This book is surprisingly comprehensive considering its length.
The book as a whole is a really enjoyable read. It even has some funny moments…
and his comments suggest my strenuous attempts to work out some kind of balance – away from that ‘glamourisation’, but not the kind of repugnant equivalence arguments that dominate much liberal discourse on Palestine and Israel – both in my head and on paper, have worked out:
The chapter on this incident is a very thoughtfully written meditation on how the nature of hijackings has fundamentally changed since 2001. Irving has been sensitive to the plight of civilian passengers caught up in the incident, without resorting to hypocritical denunciations of “terrorism.”
Annoyingly, Winstanley has also managed to spot an incorrect date which slipped through my reading of the manuscript, that of my editors and helpers, and the proofreader. Which is bloody irritating, especially when I can look at the date as it is written in the book and go: that is wrong. He also highlights a couple of points he thinks I should have mentioned, or made more of. Which is fine and taken on board.
My relationship with this book has been long and at times ambiguous. It’s seven years since I came up with the idea; although it’s my third book to be published it’s the first one I wrote. If I was starting out again there’s a lot I would do differently. So it’s good to know that despite that, the finished version is, on balance, worth it.