Trees for the Absentees


Philistia’s world is that of an ordinary university student, except that in occupied Palestine, and when your father is in indefinite detention, nothing is straightforward.

Philistia is closest to her childhood, and to her late grandmother and her imprisoned father, when she’s at her part-time job washing women’s bodies at the ancient Ottoman hammam in Nablus, the West Bank. A midwife and corpse washer in her time, Grandma Zahia taught Philistia the ritual ablutions and the secrets of the body: the secrets of life and death.

On the brink of adulthood, Philistia embarks on a journey through her country’s history – a magical journey, and one of loss and centuries of occupation. As trees are uprooted around her, Philistia searches for a place of refuge, a place where she can plant a memory for the ones she’s lost.

“A most ordinary, magical, devastating story.” Dr Nora Parr


Author: Ahlam Bsharat

Translated by: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and Sue Copeland

Publisher: Neem Tree Press, UK

Publication date: 12 September 2019

Ahlam_Bsharat_1More about Ahlam Bsharat

The Best YA Books: 10 Middle East Authors Worth Reading: Ilham Essileh recommends Bsharat’s Code Name: Butterfly (translated by Nancy Roberts)

Profile at Palestine Book Awards