[Mural] is an exquisitely designed book, enhanced by several of Berger’s evocative drawings and marred only by Berger’s strident, grandstanding introduction. … For Mural is a spiralling and circuitous poem, alive with swerves and sly twists, moving along corridors that dead-end only to open out unexpectedly into detours and hidden passageways. That single adjective, conspicuous in Darwish’s spare style, presages the very structure of Mural. … Darwish was master of a clear, pure Arabic diction, subtly inflected, and though his lines appear jagged on the page, they are driven by classical (rather than colloquial) cadences; paradoxically enough, this makes his enigmatic passages—and there are many in Mural even more recondite. … Darwish combines lyrics, prose poems, and aphorisms, in rather disjointed fashion.
The full article is available at the Bookforum website by a free registration here.
Mahmoud Darwish (1942–2008) published some thirty books of poetry and prose; his work has been translated into thirty-five languages. His many international awards include the Lenin Peace Prize and the Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom.
John Berger’s latest novel is From A to X.
Rema Hammami is professor at the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, Ramallah.