The Sunbird by Sara Haddad

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve

This slender volume by Sydney writer, Sara Haddad, comes at a time when the world’s eyes are trained on the catastrophic events that daily occur in the Middle East.  While much of the West is appalled by the relentless destruction wrought by Israel, Sara Haddad’s book does not engage in the struggle but instead presents a gentle, quite subtle account of an eighty year old woman reminiscing about her childhood in Palestine in 1947/8 when her simple, peaceful existence there was shattered by the war to establish the new state of Israel.

She now lives in Sydney, appreciates the very different yet colourfully vibrant landscape surrounding her, but acutely misses her life back in her homeland.  When she recalls her childhood, it is with a sweet innocence, devoid of any ugly recriminations. Bombs fall, but she does not know why….

The ongoing tragic position of the Palestinian people is summarized in the Addendum, as the British and then the Israelis sought to deal with the establishment of the new Jewish nation.  From this, it is clear how deep the wounds must be to the Palestinians, displaced and bereft of the things they hold most dear.

The Sunbird is not an angry outcry for justice for the Arabs who choose to live there.

Nor is it a hateful denouncing of Israel’s actions.  It is a calm, delicate, account of one person’s longing and love for her native land, and the deep scars of loss.  By focusing on a child, later an old woman, it underlines the fact that the innocent suffer, bewildered by the horror that occurs.

The Sunbird is, quite simply, a beautiful little book which nonetheless is a significant contribution to the confronting situation that daily hits the media.

The Sunbird


by Sara Haddad


ISBN 978 176351 830 8

$19.95; 88pp

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