The novel unfolds in a village in the northern area of the West Bank. It explores the power dynamics between a variety of actors: extended families, and Jordanian and Israeli authorities during the interwar period of 1948-1967. This transitional period focuses on two historical events in modern Palestine: the 1948 creation of Israel, which led to the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians, and the 1967 war, which resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This novel describes the evolution of Palestinian society in a village that suddenly becomes a border town in 1948. Certain deviant social practices emerge, such as smuggling, which involve power play between extended families and the authorities. The main character, Rasmiya, “the virgin” is married before being accused of adultery (with a Jordanian officer) and killed by her own family under the oak tree in the village where the inhabitants gather. Rasmiya’s body is left next to the tree, which is bombed and uprooted when the soldiers arrive to occupy the village.
The novel was first published in Palestine in 1992 and became the subject of controversy with the author even receiving threats. He abandoned his home for a few months, and agreed to have the copies of his novel withdrawn from all shops in Palestine. The novel was republished in 1997 and in Egypt in 2000.
Approximate number of pages: 423 p.