An Atlantic Books Today Editor's Pick
Marcello Di Cintio first visited Palestine in 1999. Like most outsiders, the Palestinian narrative that he knew had been simplified by a seemingly unending struggle, a near-Sisyphean curse of stories of oppression, exile, and occupation told over and over again.
In Pay No Heed to the Rockets, he reveals a more complex story, the Palestinian experience as seen through the lens of authors, books, and literature. Using the form of a political-literary travelogue, he explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a rich imaginative life and the daily tedium and violence of survival.
Di Cintio begins his journey on the Allenby Bridge that links Jordan to Palestine. He visits the towns and villages of the West Bank, passes into Jerusalem, and then travels through Israel before crossing into Gaza. En route, he meets with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers. He begins to see Palestine through their eyes, through their stories.
In the company of literary giants like Mahmoud Darwish and Ghassan Kanafani, and the contemporary authors whom they continue to inspire, Di Cintio travels through the rich cultural and literary heritage of Palestine. It's there that he uncovers a humanity, and a beauty, often unnoticed by news media. At the seventieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War, Pay No Heed to the Rockets tells a fresh story about Palestine, one that begins with art rather than war.
"That Di Cintio researches his subjects thoroughly, conducts in depth reporting, and writes with vigour and humility is testimony to his skill in handling one of the most divisive political stories of the last 100 years."
"In just a little over 200 pages, Di Cintio introduces us to dozens of writers, each living a different creative life in cities ranging from Ramallah to Haifa to Gaza to Jerusalem."
"Di Cintio takes the reader on a literary journey to see how Palestinians living under occupation and siege today find the inspiration to keep on writing, despite, or sometimes because of, adverse circumstances."
"Illuminating reading from a highly engaged author."
"Di Cintio weaves together history with a sense of place and infuses character with dialogue and humor to produce a contemporary portrait of a people who continue to resist both occupation and simple categorization in this masterful work."
"This is one of the best books I have ever read about Palestine."
"This blend of history and travel will interest all seeking a better understanding of Palestinian life."