Mohammed Al-Asaad

Mohammed Al-Asaad is a Palestinian poet, novelist and a literary critic. He was born in Umm al-Zinat, a Palestinian village on the southern slope of Mt. Carmel in 1944. On 15 May 1948, the village was attacked by a brigade of the pre-state Haganah Zionist fighting force. Umm al-Zinat’s people were expelled and the village was demolished, as was the fate of hundreds of other Palestinian villages and towns that were ethnically cleansed during the establishment of what came to be known as the state of Israel. Along with his family and the surviving inhabitants of Umm al-Zinat, the young Al-As‘ad was displaced to Jenin. In Jenin, the stationed Iraqi army would transport the people of Umm al-Zinat to Iraq after its withdrawal from Palestine.

Al-As‘ad and his family lived as refugees in Iraq. He began writing poetry and literary criticism during his time at the University of Baghdad, where he completed his higher education in 1967. Upon his graduation, Al-As‘ad moved to Kuwait where he continued his professional life in the world of journalism and publishing.

His first collection of poetry Singing in Deep Vaults was published in Baghdad (1974) .He has published seventeen collections of poetry, including two volumes of collected works which appeared in Cairo in 2009 and 2011. His first work of literary criticism An Essay on Poetic Language was published in Beirut (1980). He is also the author of a further two works of art and literary criticism, Palestinian Art (1985) and In Search of Modernity (1986). His poetry and literary criticism has in the last three-decades appeared in prestigious journals like Al-Adab and al-Fikr al-‘Arabi al-Mu‘aser, among others, as well as in daily newspapers. His numerous studies on orientalism and archaeology were collected and published as Orientalists and Archaeology (Arab Scientific Publishers, 2010).

His first novel Children of the Dew was published in London (1990) and has since been translated into French, Portuguese, Greek and Hebrew. It was recently republished by Dar al-Feel in Jerusalem (2013). Six of his novels, including Children of the Dew, The Refugee’s Text (1999), The Lover’s Garden (2001), The Tree of Pleasures (2004), Voices of Silence (2009) and Umm al-Zinat Under the Caroub Trees (2009), were published in two volumes of his collected novels in Algiers (2009).

His recollections on his life as a refugee in the form of a dialogue with the Egyptian-Israeli historian Joseph Algazy edited by Françoise Germain-Robin was published as Par-delà les murs: Un réfugié palestinien et un Israélien revisitent leur histoire (Beyond the Walls: A Palestinian Refugee and an Israeli Revisit Their History) (Actes Sud, 2005).

He has also translated into Arabic Arthur Miller’s After the Fall (1998), Kenneth Yasuda’s The Japanese Haiku (1999) and Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium (1999).