“Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine” by Marcello Di Cintio— Looking at Palestine Through Literature

Di Cintio, Marcello. “Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine”, Counterpoint Press, 2018.

Looking at Palestine Through Literature

Amos Lassen

Marcello Di Cintio first visited Palestine in 1999, and as with most outsiders and what he knew was a story of unending struggle, of stories of oppression, exile, and occupation. This is what he had learned from the media. However in “Pay No Heed to the Rockets”, he shares a story that is more complex and that is the Palestinian experience as seen through authors, books, and literature. He explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a life of imagination and the daily violence of survival. He traveled the long route through the West Bank, into Jerusalem, across Israel, and finally into Gaza and he met with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers to learn about Palestine through their eyes, and through the stories of their stories.

Di Cintio travels through the rich cultural and literary heritage of Palestine. He uncovered a humanity, and a beauty, often ignored and/or unnoticed by news media. This is a fresh story about Palestine and it begins with art instead of war.

We read of a powerful and perceptive look at Palestinian culture in a memoir that is both travelogue and literary appreciation We learn about libraries and bookstores that are dedicated to preserving and promoting a cultural history threatened with elimination and novels that are being written in prison on cigarette wrappers. We see that on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian who wish to live their lives free of the hatred that is the result of the conflict. We know little about everyday Palestinians but journalist Di Cintio means to change that by sharing his nearly 20 years of visits to the West Bank and Gaza and the writings of Palestine’s many literary figures. We see literature, history, and politics come together and take us to the modern Palestinian literary scene while introducing us to the rich diversity of voices that make it up.

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