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A Thousand Farewells

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  257 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
A uniquely personal insight into the Middle East from one of Canada’s most respected foreign correspondents

In 1976, Nahlah Ayed’s family gave up their comfortable life in Winnipeg for the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The transition was jarring, but it was from this uncomfortable situation that Ayed first observed the people whose heritage she sha
Published April 10th 2012 by Viking Canada (first published March 30th 2012)
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Jan 14, 2013 Stobby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I should first say that I’m a fan of Nahlah Ayed. Having watched her countless news reports from the Middle-East, I’m in awe of her courage and conviction as a female and a western reporter in an area of the world that can be tenuously welcoming to both. It was with great anticipation that I picked up A Thousand Farewells.

The story begins with Ms. Ayed’s Winnipeg upbringing and abrupt relocation to a Palestinian Refugee camp in Jordan. The rest of the book, the majority of the book, is about Ms
Carly Drake
I really, really wanted to love this book. On paper, I fit squarely into a demographic that should love this book.

I graduated from the same journalism school that Ms. Ayed attended - she got her MJ, I got my BJ - and then moved on to study international development. Now I work with immigrants and refugees, many of whom have lived through the horrors Ms. Ayed has documented. They live with the consequences of those global politics every day, so I picked up "A Thousand Farewells" as part of my ef
Steven Buechler
Oct 28, 2012 Steven Buechler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always admired Ayed's reports. They were filled both humanity and detail, something that I wasn't able to do with my short-lived media career. Her book explores her background and the historic events she has covered so far, giving her fans a better understanding of her job.

Page 322-323
It had been an exceptional year. I had initially arrived in London to fill in for six days, and it became my base for nine months. I that short time, I had been on assignement in Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Toron
Just A. Bean
I really enjoyed reading this book. Her voice, descriptions and characters were all vivid and interesting. She had some wonderful turns of phrase, and the pacing mostly clipped along (though stumbled a bit towards the end, as it was clearly heading for publication just as major things were happening, which she acknowledges in her author's notes at the end).

In terms of content, I wasn't sure I learned that much. I'm not much of a news junky, but the events covered here were all front and centre l
I really loved this book. The author recalls from her own ten year experience as a CBC foreign corespondant in the Middle East. Seh tells her own tale form the time she was a child born into a winnipeg suburb, her family moving to a refugee camp in Amman Jordon, then back to Winnipeg, and an educaiotn as a journalist in Toronto. It is a deeply personal stroy which gives a very understandable , comprehensive viewpoint of the Arab World form 2001 to 2011, focusing on the people in the Middle East ...more
Kathleen Nightingale
I have decided that I don't like journalists writing books. The writing just doesn't gel as Ayed flips and flops and segues from no where to no where.

I really wanted to read this book because of the area and was looking forward to becoming more informed of the political strife. I am no more informed nor enlightened than I was prior to reading the book. I was looking for more insight to why there continues to be uprisings and wars and this book did not address the issues. I was left in the same p
It was interesting to learn about her time as a journalist in the middle east. I really like learning some of the background reasons why things are the way they are.
Jared F
Feb 28, 2013 Jared F is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
It’s become commonplace to read Western views on the Middle East, stories of war-time journalists close the action, and of the struggles of Western women in the Middle East, but each of those stories exists as a separate entity, largely unconnected to the other. Though in Nahlah Ayed’s A Thousand Farewells all of those stories come together as she tells of her life as a Palestinian-Canadian journalist, bouncing from conflict to conflict and trying to find her place as a citizen of the West and t ...more
Steve Wilson
Mar 25, 2012 Steve Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I received through the Goodreads ARC.

When I recieved this book, I thought it was going to be more autobiographical in nature. Certainly there is enough in this author's life and experiences as a reporter which would have made a strict autographical tale worthy of a book. While the author does shed some light on her life (born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and having spent some time in a refugee camp in Jordan). the focus of the book is on the events and the reasons leading to the Ara
I've often admired Ms. Ayed as a reporter and appreciated her intelligence and factual reporting of the news from the Middle East. So I was surprised to read in her book about her insecurities and feelings of inadequacy in reporting during her first few years of reporting on events in the Middle East.

The first part of this memoir is an interesting background of her life and that of her family. I won't summarize the details here as that is done by other reviewers. The rest of the book is Ms. Ayed
Shelagh Plunkett
I found this book both fascinating and frustrating, as well as informative.

Ayed was born in Canada to parents who had grown up in Middle Eastern refuge camps. When Ayed and her siblings were very young their parents decided to leave their comfortable and settled existence in Winnipeg to return to the Middle East where they lived, again, in a refuge camp. Ayed describes the struggles of that life with the skill of a trained journalist and the added insight of writer who has lived the experience.
Jun 20, 2012 Elise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just listened to @NahlahAyed's interview in The Current and want to read her book.


Amazing book. The author does a great job at giving a voice and a personal face to the conflicts in the Middle East. It lets the reader understand the psyche of Middle Eastern people from the foundation of Israel and its effect on people up to the Arab Spring of 2011. It also helps understand the effect of these wars on people, how after suffering so many traumas and a
Jun 04, 2016 Dar rated it it was ok
A selection of my "international fiction" book club. Nahlah had a shocking turn of events in childhood. She was born in Canada to Palestinian parents. When she was 6 years old, her parents worried that their kids would become too Westernized. So they uprooted and moved back to a refugee camp in Jordan where they remained for the next 7 years! There was no work, so eventually her dad returned to Canada without the family and sent money back for their living expenses! They eventually reunited and ...more
"You cannot fully comprehend the reasons behind an eruption of violence, an uprising, without having understood its root causes. You must know every one of a country's opposing voices to truly reflect the tension between them. You must know something of the people's daily challenges before you could credibly speak to their frustrations.

You must also be able to put yourself in the shoes of anyone, anywhere, to truly tell their story. People are not quotes or clips, used to illustrate stories abo
The best way for me to understand geopolitical events where I'm unfamiliar with the background is to have a well versed friend explain them to me. It's not that I don't enjoy reading news, it's just difficult to absorb information and to know which details are important when you don't have an emotional/human context in which to place them.

From that perspective, this book was truly enlightening. To see the unfolding of events through Ms. Ayed's eyes was to create one story in my mind. As she is
Mar 30, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, first-reads
I received this book A Thousand Farewells as part of the Goodreads First Read Program.

This was a very informative read. Ms. Ayed has done a fabulous job of bringing a human face to the crisis in the Middle East. Often on the news we only hear and see snippets of the story and focussed only on the erruption of violence. Through her own personal experiences Ms.Ayed is able to share her insight and give the "ordinary citizen" a voice. We see the effects of war and conflict on it's citizens and how
Adam  McPhee
Sep 14, 2016 Adam McPhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir from the CBC reporter who has covered every significant development in the middle east since the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Completely succeeds in her goal of giving "a glimpse into the Arab condition, focused on how people become the product of their challenging environment—and on the civilians of the region who have long been mischaracterized and misunderstood."

Her own personal story is amazing as well: born in Winnipeg, her parents felt that their kids didn't know enough about t
For those of us not conversant with Arab history and background like me, this is an excellent book to get it in a memoir by the Canadian-born daughter of Palestinian refugees. When she was about five years old, her parents decided to take their family back to their homeland. They felt it was very important for the children to know what their family and other Palestinians had gone through.

After some years the Ayed family returned to Winnipeg, Canada, place that in winter is the furthest thing fr
Nov 22, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more things change the more they stay the same.

A really interesting read. I read the paperback version which includes an epilogue from Feb 2013 and updates the continuing struggles in Egypt. Like Ayed you hope that change will come but the struggles are so deep-seeded and ingrained. And now, as she says in her epilogue, "the most daunting (challenge) for the region as a whole is still the predicament- the dissatisfaction of its youth. The Arab version of the Baby Boomer generation is as dis
Eleanor Shepherd
May 21, 2013 Eleanor Shepherd rated it liked it
While I found the book interesting, in that it provided a closer look at recent history, it seemed to be lacking in personal involvement with the events. There was a lot of analysis but I did not feel a great deal of emotion was elicited for the people involved. There is obvious ambiguity about the identity of the journalist as both a Canadian and a person rooted in the Middle East. Perhaps this unique identity could have been further developed. I found it hard to keep reading, as it did not fee ...more
Kate Jaimet
Apr 04, 2013 Kate Jaimet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sheer respect I have for Nahlah Ayed and her coverage of the Middle East would tempt me to give the book five stars. Who am I to criticize her, when she has accomplished far more than I have as a journalist? However, as a reader, I did find that the book left me a little unsatisfied. As a memoir, it didn't really delve very deeply into her personal life (probably her instincts as a reporter, not to put herself at the centre of the story). As a picture of Middle-East recent history, I found i ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Nahla Ayed writes of her experiences as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. She was born in Winnipeg when at the age of seven her parents decided to move the family back to Jordan to experience their culture. They lived in a Palestinian refugee camp with their relatives in Amman, Jordan. The descriptions of daily life in the refugee camp were very foreign to herself and the rest of the family. I really enjoyed this book as she writes quite candidly of her experiences in the camp and repo ...more
May 30, 2015 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
This is the first book I've ever read by a journalist and it speaks like a journalist. Therefore I found her stories bounced around quite a bit. But on the whole I enjoyed what she had to say. In my opinion, the beginning of the novel where she describes her childhood was the most cohesive part and featured the best writing in the novel. I was hoping for more insight into why the Middle East is fighting in the first place. But her accounts were quite interesting overall and I learned a lot about ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Marjorie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story written by a war correspondent posted to the middle East. She was born in Canada and then the family decided to move to a refugee camp for Palestinians so the children could know their relatives. They lived there 6 years. Moving back to Canada made her realize that children, in fact citizens, needed freedom to thrive rather than just survive. She is able to describe just what the citizens in these war torn nations are suffering. Like Nahlah the book made me count my blessings yet ...more
Apr 08, 2014 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ayed is a very good writer, a reflection of her journalism background. I thought the book moved slowly in the beginning. It was insightful to see the situation in the Middle East from the point of view of those who live there rather than only what the US and Canadian media tell us. It gave me a better understanding of the enormity of the challenges both within the countries and from those who wish to help from without.
Connie Crosby
Aug 13, 2013 Connie Crosby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, biography
Very interesting memoirs from Canadian reporter who has worked as the Middle East correspondent for the CBC. Her life growing up is fascinating: born in Manitoba, her parents moved her family back to a refugee camp in Jordan when she was growing up. She traces her time in various countries covering the news, and especially her return during Arab Spring. I saw glimpses of more culture than we usually see on the news.
Byron Wright
Apr 08, 2013 Byron Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always liked Nahlah Ayed's reporting from the middle east. This is what prompted me to read her memoir.

While this is a memoir that covers her experiences (and therefore gives you insight into her own life), it also provides a lot of insight about the middle easy. I was fascinated by her descriptions of how Arabs in the middle east view their own world. It was this description of people rather than events that made this book memorable for me.
Jan 13, 2013 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing, insightful book. Shed light on Arab culture and the Middle East (often misunderstood or stereotyped), on the nature of reporting, on the plight of refugees and victims of war, and what it means to be Canadian. I felt that I gained so much knowledge and appreciation (for my life in Canada and for the sacrifices of many immigrants) after reading this book. If you had any misgivings about Arabs and the Middle East, I urge you to read this book and open your mind.
Sherrida McKnight
Sep 21, 2013 Sherrida McKnight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author was well known to me as a CBC reporter, and while I read I could hear her voice. The book is a bit like an in-depth report on a number of uprisings in the Middle East, many of which I was familiar with. I think there is a lot of things that she didn’t tell us in this book, but what she did reveal was fascinating. I would have like to have had a map of the areas she was covering, but with ever-changing borders perhaps that wouldn’t have worked.
Dec 30, 2012 Shami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is an important book for everyone to read. I found it greatly helpful in understanding the experiences of Arab people in the Middle East for more than the past decade. Nahlah Ayed writes clearly and compassionately - her personal perspective of being a Canadian of Palestinian descent provides personal insights that invite you to continue reading. I couldn't put it down and look forward to following her work as a Canadian correspondent.
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