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EXCERPT: Searching for beauty

From Marcello Di Cintio's Pay No Heed to the Rockets

Marcello Di Cintio

9780864928986_FC_d4defa43-4334-4fd6-9af2-d41703ddc57c_1024x1024Most of all, though, the girl in the photos made me long for beauty. All we think we know of Palestine is its ugliness. Palestine is a place of despairing grey broken only by the red of blood and flame. But the girl in Gaza was beautiful in the way all children are beautiful, and more beautiful still for the unexpected flash of her green dress against the grey rubble. So I travelled to Palestine to find beauty. I wanted to touch the bird and the well, not just the scorpion.

Nothing is more beautiful than a story. And nothing is more human. To weave the snarled strands of a life, either real or imagined, into literature is a form of blessed alchemy. Twists of plot and turns of phrase mirror the messy details of human existence. We are nothing more or less than the stories we tell. But the only story most outsiders ever hear about Palestine is a thin volume of enduring conflict. The character of the Palestinian is either a furious militant throwing stones with a keffiyeh wrapped around his face, or an old woman in hijab wailing in front of her destroyed home. This single Sisyphean narrative of anger and deprivation holds the Palestinians hostage, and little beauty is to be found in such a plot.

Excerpted from Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense. Copyright © 2018 by MARCELLO DI CINTIO. Reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions.

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