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It’s April 1948, and war hangs over Jaffa. One minute seven-year-old Salim is dreaming of taking his first harvest from the family’s orange tree; the next he is swept away into a life of exile and rage. Seeking a new beginning in swinging-'60s London, Salim finds an unexpected love with Jude, a troubled Jewish girl struggling with her own devastating family legacy. The bond between them flourishes in the freedom of the age, bringing the promise of thrilling new worlds. But before long, childhood conflicts and prejudices reawaken to infringe upon their life together, pulling them and their children inexorably back towards the Middle East and its battlegrounds. From Russia’s pogroms, to the Summer of Love and the Middle East’s restless cities, Ishmael’s Oranges follows the journeys of men and women cast adrift by war to tell the story of two families spanning the crossroad events of modern times, and of the legacy of hatred their children inherit.
Claire Hajaj shares both Palestinian and Jewish heritage. Her childhood was split between the Middle East and rural England. She has lived on four continents and worked for the United Nations in war zones from Burma to Beirut. A former journalist, she lives in Beirut, Lebanon.