2 out of 4 stars
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Divided World by Kenneth Pickering is a collection of fiction plays written by playwrights of Arabian descents, including Hannah Khalil, Kate Al Hadid, and Hassan Abdulrazzak. The plays portray the current state of some countries in the Middle East, their citizens, and those who chose to lead more peaceful lives elsewhere. In addition to the plays, Kenneth Pickering gives brief biographies of the playwrights.
First, the reader is introduced to the British and French empires in the 1910s. They divide the Arabian world among them in a scene that shows their impact on the current situation of the Middle East. Next, we see the lives of Palestinians trying to follow their dreams in a land where walls won’t crumble on their heads and how their entire future depends on the authorities of the occupying forces. We also walk through the journey of refugees and how they try to embrace their heritage and keep the faith that someday they will return to their reborn land. Not to mention the other heartfelt stories that could make the reader shed a few tears for those people.
“Never make a promise that you know you cannot keep. Make all your decisions when you know they are asleep.” This part of the poem in the first play was what I admired most about this book. There are other appealing elements, too. Not only are the plays short and easy to read, but they are also informative. I was particularly impressed when I read about the Mask of Warka.
Owing to the references to some religious traditions and beliefs, this book may not appeal to some people. This is in addition to the excessive use of profanity and the instance of some erotic descriptions. What I disliked most, though, was the fact that a lot of sentences in the dialogue were incomplete, which made it difficult to understand what they were talking about. Furthermore, I was keen to see more illustrative pictures throughout the book other than the one in the first chapter.
All in all, I give this book 2 out of 4. Besides the downsides mentioned above, I was expecting more from this book; perhaps it should have been more eventful or proceed at a faster rate. But then again, it is a collection of plays, so Kenneth Pickering isn’t the one to blame. Finally, I found more than ten typing mistakes throughout the book. I would recommend the book for those who would like to get a closer look at the lives of the misfortunate Arabs; however, I would not recommend it for someone wishing to understand the politics behind the current Middle Eastern situation.
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