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Prisoner Of Love

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  402 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Starting in 1970, Jean Genet—petty thief, prostitute, modernist master—spent two years in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Always an outcast himself, Genet was drawn to this displaced people, an attraction that was to prove as complicated for him as it was enduring. Prisoner of Love, written some ten years later, when many of the men Genet had known had been killed ...more
hardback, 375 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Wesleyan (first published 1982)
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In 1970, Jean Genet, armed with a letter of safe transit from Arafat himself, visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. He stayed two years. He left in a hurry, but returned in 1984. It was then he started to write this, this, this......what is this? It is not a fiction, certainly not a novel. It's not a history; I had to look elsewhere for chronology and facts. It's not an argument; he damns everyone. At times it read like a billet-doux, but the subject of his ardor will never get to rea ...more
I probably haven't written an adequate review of a Genet bk yet. This was his last bk & it has a stunning maturity to it. The back cover blurb calls it "a controversial account of the last decades of his life that translates his experience with the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Black Panthers into a meditation on power, territoriality, and the nature of the outsider." "[C]ontroversial"? "[C]ontroversial" w/ whom? Genet had an extremely incisive intellect. If I were to divide his bks ...more
This was not a particularly easy-breezy read, but interesting enough for me to want to power through. This is a memoir that does not follow any linear pattern; instead it covers different years, from Genet's time living in a Palestinian refugee camp for a couple years in the early seventies, to time in Beirut during the Israeli invasion in the mid eighties. He talked to fedayeen (militant fighters) and Black Panthers and was unapologetically pro-Palestinian.

Reading this book right now has felt t
أحمد شاكر
كتاب صعب. وهذا لصعوبة أسلوب جينيه وكثرة استرسالاته واشاراته. بدأ جينيه تأليف هذا الكتاب في العام 1983، بعد 14 سنة من مغادرته مخيمات الفدائيين الفلسطينيين بالأردن (يسميها جينيه فترة حضانة)، كان قد أمضى هناك (ما يقرب من عامين)، مسجلا ذكرياته ومشاهداته لأحداث الثورة الفلسطينية، وما يتعلق بها من أحداث بارزة كأحداث مخيم الوحدات، ومجازر صبرا وشاتيلا، محاولا فهم معنى هذه القضية/الثورة، ومقارنتها بانتفاضة الفهود السود في أميركا.
المترجم بذل مجهودا جبارا لإخراج تلك الصورة بهذا الشكل. قرأت لجينيه 4 كتب: ي
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a teenager, when I was tearing rapaciously through the literary masterpieces Jean Genet wrote in the 40s, I was most taken w/ QUERELLE, the novel from that period which would appear to be the least declarative about any ostensible roots in autobiography. THE THIEF'S JOURNAL and the prison novels seemed messier. They were less clearly defined projects from a formal standpoint; they delivered less familiar rewards. In my twenties I read a collection of Genet's political essays, many focused on ...more
David M
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm of the opinion that Genet's two greatest books are his first and last - Our Lady of the Flowers and Prisoner of Love, separated by more than forty years.

No, Genet didn't really mellow with age. And yet these pages overflow with the wisdom of an old man. He achieves a certain critical distance from the mythology of his youth. He's no longer trying to shock you. There is significantly less masturbation here than in his other works. Desire is sublimated into camaraderie and struggle. This book
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can you remember that oft-repeated scene from twentieth century TV news of an Arab woman beating her chest in mourning and exasperation after the loss of another- son , brother , daughter, lover, father , brother , neighbor? That was my initial reaction as I was finishing this incredible book. There were so many emotions involved - of loss, anger, grief, sadness , of love and joy , of triumph and self-discovery.

I know. I must start at the beginning.

Jean Genet came at me from many different direc
Sep 01, 2007 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
WOW. Really good. Hard to read though; i put it down several months ago and haven't picked it up since; i will at some point but...

The introduction to this book, not by the author but by i-don't-know-who, got me super psyched to read it. Then i read the translator's note...

The translator's note basically says "hey man - don't blame me if this book is weird. #1, the author died before he finished the final edits, and as he started out writing it as an extremely experimental novel (with pages in t
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Με παραπλάνησε ο τίτλος και νόμιζα πως θα είναι άλλο ένα queer μανιφέστο του συγγραφέα, εδώ όμως πρόκειται για ένα χρονικό της διένεξης Ισραήλ-Παλαιστίνης όπως την έζησε ο Genet κατά τις επισκέψεις του στην περιοχή σε διάρκεια 15 χρόνων. Για όποιον δε γνωρίζει τις ιστορικές λεπτομέρειες (όπως εγώ) η ανάγνωση είναι γολγοθάς, αφού η αφήγηση κάθε άλλο παρά ιστορική και γραμμική είναι. Ένα συνονθύλευμα τόπων, προσώπων και γεγονότων μέσα από μια αμιγώς προσωπική γραφή, όπως τη διαμορφώνει η μνήμη χρό ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jean Genet's last book and in some ways his most passionate one. His love for the Black Panthers and the Palestines goes beyond politics into something sexual and quite dangerous. Maybe my favorite of his books. Genet was one of a kind - one can't even out do him with the mixture of passion, sexuality and the joy of being in the wrong place at the right time.
Alyssa Pheobus
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who make things
I'm recommending Prisoner of Love to everyone I know, including my mom, but especially to people who make things and think seriously about the ethics of representation. It's essentially a memoir, Genet's last book, written after a long, largely silent period of distancing himself from older work that brought him fame. At the same time it's an account of his long-term involvement with the Palestinian Revolution; a struggle in which he could never wholly participate. The book is amazing because he ...more
Dec 16, 2015 marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
Tan pronto la nación comienza a conformarse como un Estado soberano, sus funciones progresistas se desvanecen. Jean Genet estaba encantado con el deseo revolucionario de las Panteras Negras y los Palestinos, pero reconoció que cuando se transformaran en naciones soberanas se terminarían sus cualidades revolucionarias. “El día que los palestinos se institucionalicen”, sostuvo, “ ya no estaré a su lado. El día que los Palestinos sean una nación como cualquier otra, ya no estaré allí”.

...sobre la e
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished. This book was a journey for me. Oftentimes I would set it aside knowing that I am not ready to grasp the enormity of Jean Genet's writing. Not quite a memoir, Genet delves into an exquisite portrayal of his lived experience among Palestinian revolutionaries. There's a sense of hurry in the book, and considering Genet was himself dying, perhaps the hurried portrait that Genet paints is reflected in his writing as one memory bounces off of the next. It may have taken me a year to ...more
Mai Abdeen
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Prisoner of Love some years ago...I longed to live those years to the point that I decided to re-read it in attempt to live the moments all over again,,,to walk around the fedayeen base, to read their love letters, capture the determination look in the eyes of "young lions" to smell the camp, it's dreams and draw Palestine with a refugee eye...could it be! Am I trapped in this book! Am I the prisoner of love!
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Should a book be considered good just because it is hard? I hated this book, but had to read it through for work. I hated the lack of structure and the lack of a fable as well as lengthy digressions.

Admittedly there are images and insights in there that will stick with me, but they are buried so deeply among the general ramblings that it hardly seems worth the read. If you are looking for an insight into Palestinian-Israeli conflict, look elsewhere.
this is some dense reading. will tackle later. damn you genet.
Kate Savage
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"One thing a book tries to do is show, beneath the disguise of words and causes and clothes and even grief, the skeleton and the skeleton dust to come. The author too, like those he speaks of, is dead."

A wild and imperfect and beautiful book. When Genet was dying of cancer, he refused pain-killers so he could be lucid enough to write this memoir of his time with the Black Panthers and the Palestinian fedayeen.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a unique book. I do not consider it a memoir, nor a description of a specific experience. It is more of various unrelated thoughts and feelings that were gathered in a book about a specific period of time and place, but which were related many times in the book to other events in other places in the world and different period of times. The book is unique for many reasons - for me at least: first of all, you can feel the honesty in the words of this book. Genet remembers his years with th ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's really nothing like his other, earlier novels through which he became famous. However, I wouldn't really have wanted to have read this without knowing that side of Genet, and having knowledge about the rest of his life. To actually understand Genet a bit helps to understand the power of this final work, which is mostly finished and unpolished. It's Genet's final statement to the world just before he died, and it encapsulates passion, it is passion. Genet is the most stunning writer I've eve ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Książka trudna, jesli ktoś średnio orientuje się w zawiłościach konfliktu Palestyńska-Izraelskiego (a dokładniej Palestyna - reszta świata) – skoki w czasie i przestrzeni, brak linearności wspomnień sprawia, że nie sposób ogranąć co, gdzie i kiedy. Genet pisze z irytującą manierą, skupiając się np. na ciele i tym, jak wydepilowane podbrzusze mieli fedaini (i gdyby to raz, to uznałabym to jaka ciekawą uwagę, ale to powraca i powraca) i przez to odchodzi od głownego wątku swojej historii, czyli ci ...more
brought to this book by the review by Ahdaf Soueif in Mezzaterra, now reading it slowly bit by bit, very interesting reflections on a period that is past but of course very important for our present. descriptions of his conversations with Palestinians in refugee camps, fedayeen in different places, written some 20 years after the events.
Iyad Abou-rabii
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1970 Genet visited the Palestinian camps in Jordan,he was drawn by the tragedy of these people, this book is written later and it us affirming Genet's commitment to the justice...,if you care about justice you need to read this.
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book. Very different to anything I've read on Palestine before, the writing was much more poetic and I very much enjoyed the focus on descriptions of people and places, and Genet's attitude towards them. A fascinating man, I'm going to try and read more of his work.
Mar 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: palestine
The sentences in this book are beautiful and flowing. They aren't, however, put together in any clear order. It falls into the category of books that I know I probably should finish, but just couldn't focus on.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Reading Genet is like being stabbed by a ballerina with a switch-blade. Writing from a tremendously distinct and complex subjectivity about his time spent with Palestinian guerillas in the 70s, he thinks and sees in ways which are both elegant, brutal and necessary. Read it.

Read it.
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Starts little slow, but really a great read.
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
still reading after all these years
Gregor Kamnikar
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book written by genius Genet. Pinnacle of 20th century literature.
Mar 06, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I confess!!!!! I bought this book from years ago but still haven't finished reading it!!!!
Rami Farhan
Jul 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boriiing af
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NYRB Classics: Prisoner of Love, by Jean Genet 1 8 Oct 29, 2013 06:45PM  

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Jean Genet (1910-1986), poet, novelist, playwright, and political essayist, was one of the most significant French writers of the twentieth century. His work, much of it considered scandalous when it first appeared, is now placed among the classics of modern literature and has been translated and performed throughout the world.

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