In 1976, Nahlah Ayed’s family gave up a comfortable life in Winnipeg for the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The transition was jarring but it was during this unsettling period that Ayed first closely observed the people whose heritage she shared. She had to become accustomed to rudimentary housing and crowded streets, unfamiliar social customs, and the prevailing mood of loss and mourning. But it was hearing the family’s stories of exile and displacement that profoundly affected her.
The family returned to Canada when Ayed was thirteen, and the Middle East and its problems receded for many years. But the First Gulf War and the events of 9/11 reignited her interest. And as an Arabic-speaking journalist, she was soon reporting from the region full time, covering its dangerous conflicts and trying to make sense of the wars and upheavals that have affected its people and sent so many of them seeking a better life elsewhere.
In A Thousand Farewells, Ayed vividly describes the myriad ways in which ordinary Arabs have coped with oppression and loss. From her own early days witnessing protests in Amman to watching the amazing Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Libya, Ayed offers nuanced and insightful analysis. Throughout, she focuses on the people whose lives have been so dramatically affected.
A Thousand Farewells is the heartfelt and personal chronicle of a journalist who has devoted her career to covering one of the world’s most volatile regions.