In a small Arab town in northern Israel, a dreamy young woman disappears one day. Her name is Donia, Arabic for “world.” The disappearance shocks the locals and they mobilize to search for her. But other than the discovery of a new civil volunteering spirit, their effort is fruitless. The lost Donia represents the way that Israeli Arabs see the loss of their world after the founding of the State of Israel
The story unfolds into an account of what happens to some of the townsfolk after the 1948-49 War of Independence, when they were driven out of their homes and not allowed to return. A mosaic of the lives of three generations of Arabs in the state of Israelis is gradually revealed to the reader: each of them struggles in their own way with the mental and economic distress that follows upon the loss of their homes and their property, and they all carry on living their lives, starting families, having children.
The narrative goes on to describe life under the oppressive and corrupting military government imposed upon Arab areas in the first decades of the existence of the Israeli state. Attempts at nationalist and progressive political activity are depicted, alongside the personal lives of the characters, their dreams and aspirations, and their search for love, freedom, a decent living and education. This is a story of a society arising out of the ruins of national destruction.
Odeh Bisharat uses a trenchant sarcasm to tell his story. He is unsparing in his punishing criticism of the government’s conduct, and does not recoil from mocking the antics of his Arab heroes, but he always does so with humane and compassionate understanding.
A superb work, one that is both challenging and that inspires one to keep on reading.”
“Bisharat writes in a style that to a certain extent is reminiscent of Chekhov, looking at the world with a somewhat sarcastic smile and finding, in its difficult moments, elements of the grotesque.”
- Israel Hayom
In his book, Bisharat lays bare the depths of the soul of the Palestinian person, with its feelings, hopes and aspirations.”
- Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamaddin