Unusual times require unusual interpretation. At a time when Western disdain of the Arab and Islamic worlds, often poorly understood and misinterpreted, is presented as civilized discourse, it is refreshing to read a counter argument based on scholarly historical analysis and balanced judgments without the usual tirades against the West that seem to characterize the recent works of many Arab writers and thinkers.
. . .Traces of a Tattoo earns one of its distinguished qualities from its scrupulous monitoring of its characters in their silence, speech and movements: in its scrutiny of their reactions, their deep and ambiguous fears, their sense of guilt and anxiety; and captures the tribulations of emotions and records the sound of pleasure as it crawls over, spreading numbness in both body and soul. In total, the novel becomes a spectrum that reflects the colours of life and existence as well as that pivotal conflict – the female conflict and all that it entails: east versus west, technology versus backwardness, all the dualities, the gamut of antitheses that is ever present in the Arab author’s mind.
. . .A passionate, and extremely romantic love story evolving on the backdrop of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the novel poses problematic questions: can love and life exist in times of destruction and death? Could a rose blossom in a soil infected by mines? Could the angels spread their white wings in an age of air bombing, demons, and senseless killing?
“These dictators are the Berlin Wall of the Arab World”, Bishtawi said. “And like the German wall, they will come crashing down because the pillars of US foreign policy that provided them with support since the mid-1950s came crashing down in Iraq. President Bush may recover his sagging popularity at home; he may have to pay the price for causing the death of 100,000 innocent Iraqis but then again he may not. The greatest price of his failure will be paid by the Arab dictators who opened their borders to the invading armies of the US and Great Britain to wreak havoc in another Arab and Muslim country. That price is likely to be their extinction within the next 5 years”.