Enter Ghost

Read Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad
After years away from her family’s homeland, and reeling from a disastrous love affair, actress Sonia Nasir returns to Haifa to visit her older sister Haneen. While Haneen made a life here commuting to Tel Aviv to teach at the university, Sonia remained in London to focus on her acting career and now dissolute marriage. On her return, she finds her relationship to Palestine is fragile, both bone-deep and new. When Sonia meets the charismatic and candid Mariam, a local director, she joins a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Soon, Sonia is rehearsing Gertrude’s lines in classical Arabic with a dedicated group of men who, in spite of competing egos and priorities, all want to bring Shakespeare to that side of the wall. As opening night draws closer and the warring intensifies, it becomes clear just how many obstacles stand before the troupe. Amidst it all, the life Sonia once knew starts to give way to the daunting, exhilarating possibility of finding a new self in her ancestral home.

Around the world: Palestine

I picked up this book in a bundle of many other books and I didn’t remember which. The cover of this novel is incredibly old-school, which only added to my confusion since I knew I had gotten mostly bundles from 2023 and 2024.

It took me about three-quarters of the book to realize I actually wanted to read it. I picked the novel up, started reading, didn’t really know what I was doing here and didn’t really want to read. And yet, every time I thought « I’m wasting my time here, I’ll just move to another book », something kept me here.

Sonia and Haneen have very different life experiences. They are sisters, but one is an actress in London and the other commutes to Tel-Aviv daily to work as a teacher. One has an Israeli passport, the other doesn’t.

When Sonia comes back to Palestine to visit her sister after a heartbreak, she doesn’t recognize where she’s from. Her aunt and uncle sold their house to Jewish Israelis. The neighbourhood is not a war zone, but it’s heavily militarized and it’s not home anymore. And while Sonia said she was taking a break from acting, she’s coaxed into playing in a local troupe that’s performing Hamlet in classical Arabic, which she barely speaks.

There is so much nostalgia in this novel, and yet things keep going. Sonia is constantly reminded of the past, her own and this of her country, but she keeps moving, somewhat against her will. I thought she was a fascinating character and can only regret the relative weakness of the supporting cast.


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