Book of Sins (House of Nehesi Publishers) by Palestinian/Israeli poet Nidaa Khoury

Reviews in from South Africa, Israel, Turkey
Book of Sins by Palestinian/Israeli poet Nidaa Khoury published in the Caribbean

ST. MARTIN, Caribbean (2011)—Book of Sins by Nidaa Khoury, a leading Palestinian poet in Israel, has been released here by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), said publisher Lasana M. Sekou.

The new poetry collection is the eighth book by Khoury but her first full English translation with the full Arabic and Hebrew texts in the same book, said Sekou.Nidaa Khoury is “One of the major exponents of modernist Arab women writing,” said Israeli professor Yair Huri.In Book of Sins, Khoury’s poetry “is fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when many of us feel unreal and often spiritually hollow,” said Huri.Khoury’s poems “are burning off the pages—with a rhythm embedded in fury and a beauty embedded in the ancient,” said the South African novelist Antjie Krog.Betsy Rosenberg translated what Huri calls “The exquisite purity of Khoury’s style” in Book of Sins from the original Arabic into English and Hebrew.

With Book of Sins HNP is further introducing the Middle Eastern poet to the Caribbean and the Americas, said Sekou.
This is HNP’s third multilingual poetry book in less than one year. The press, based on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, has published literary giants such as George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite, Amiri Baraka, Chiqui Vicioso, and Shake Keane.

Nidaa Khoury was born in the Galilee village of Fassuta in 1959. Her books include The Barefoot River, The Prettiest of Gods Cry, and The Bitter Crown. The latter was censored in Jordan. Her previous titles were published in Israel, Lebanon, and Egypt.


According to the Turkish author Karin Karakaşlı, Book of Sins is “Written in water and ink, in between the shed blood. Nidaa Khoury’s poems take us to the bosom of an ancient woman… an archetype revived.”Khoury is studied in Israeli universities and widely reviewed by the Arab press. She is the founder of the Association of Survival, an NGO for minorities in Israel.

The poet has participated in over 30 international conferences such as the Conference of Arab Poets (Amsterdam), the Conference of Human Rights and Solidarity with the Third World (Paris), Poetry Africa, the Poetry Festival of Jordan, the International Poetry Festival of Medellin, the St. Martin Book Fair, and the Napoli Conference on Human Rights.Khoury, a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, is the subject of the recent award-winning film, Nidaa Through Silence. Sarab for Dance is also producing Khoury’s poem “Portal to the Orient,” which is in Book of Sins, for performance in Palestine.

Book of Sins is available at,, and Ask for this new title at your favorite bookstore.



Nidaa Khoury, a major exponent of modernist Arab women writing.

Knowing How to Die

Lisa Suhair Majaj


I’ve owned it forever, a dark seed,
one of those possessions you know
you’ll need one day, but till then
shove to the back of your mind,
ignore.  It permeated my being
from the moment I pushed down the birth canal
into life-light, and before, from that first eruption
of synchronicity, cells multiplying madly
deep in my mother’s womb-nest
where I swam, nine months, practicing for life.
Once born, there was so much to do.
I learned how to breathe, how to suckle—
my mothers’ chest a savannah, her nipple
an oasis – and from there the whole world
waited.  Oh, the busyness of life!
But that death-knowledge
slumbers, imprinted in my bones
like a birthright:

original, indelible,
the one thing in life
I won’t have to earn.



Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers; Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels, and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.