The distinguished Arabic scholar, author, and translator Issa J. Boullata grew up in a Palestinian family in the Jerusalem of the 1930s and 1940s, when Palestine was under the British Mandate. His memoir, The Bells of Memory, is delightful in its reflections on an idyllic youth and detailed in its recollections of family members, classmates and teachers, remembered scents and foods, the pleasures of reading, and his early experience of the working world. This is a love letter to a Jerusalem that was changed immeasurably by Al-Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948 that dispossessed the Palestinians of their homeland and dislocated many as refugees when Israel was established.
Issa Boullata invites us to catch glimpses of his life in a Palestinian family in the uniquely pluralistic city of Jerusalem in the 1930s and 1940s. Writing simply, sympathetically, but wisely, he tells us about his life experiences at home, at school, and in society against the backdrop of the gathering political storm that culminated in the Palestinian Nakba of 1948. This book will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on its readers. -- Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al-Quds University