Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “ذاكرة للنسيان” as Want to Read:
ذاكرة للنسيان
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

ذاكرة للنسيان

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,493 ratings  ·  232 reviews
One of the Arab world's greatest living poets uses the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut as the setting for this sequence of prose poems. Mahmoud Darwish vividly recreates the sights and sounds of a city under terrible siege. As fighter jets scream overhead, he explores the war-ravaged streets of Beirut on August 6th (Hiroshima Day).

Memory for/>Memory
Paperback, 194 pages
Published 2007 by رياض الريس للكتب والنشر (first published 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about ذاكرة للنسيان, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about ذاكرة للنسيان

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,493 ratings  ·  232 reviews

More filters
Sort order
James Murphy
Jul 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I understand Darwish is one of the most prominent poets in the Arab world. And this, Memory for Forgetfulness, is prose poetry written in the form of a narrative covering one August day during the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982. For purposes of his book Darwish equates memory with writing and forgetfulness with history. So his account of a day spent during the destruction of Beirut is a writing for history. Israeli planes are a type of devil, history rains on the populace of a city which seems ...more
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
This book was unforgettable (an intentional play on the title). I learned of the author through a shoddy VHS documentary about his life and was compelled to buy a copy of this. I actually wanted to get any book by him and this was the only thing I could find in my local used store.

His style is amazing though. He is loved throughout the middle east for his poems, prose, readings and art. Check out his site:

This particular book is very remarkable as it effectively takes you inside the p
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Darwish is probably my favorite late 20th century poet and this novel, the only novel he ever wrote, is incredible. It's more a prose poem than a novel, taking place over a single day during the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982. It's like Ulysses, only a fraction of the length and, well, good. Not to mention its about and a subject that matters!
Arnoldo Garcia
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetas
I read this book by Mahmoud Darwish once a year. Memory for Forgetfulness never stops evolving, metaphor and earth at its deepest waging war against the war that was Beirut in 1982. Darwish writes and is the written word of Palestine.
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: rated-3
Something bout this book.. Couldn't quite understand it but it still made me want to continue reading it. Felt sad.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: collected
This book is not for reading only, but for feeling. Every word emerged from a soul and has deep feelings. Probably this is the book which does not have any terrible description of war and refuge but showed the deepest pain of refugee and life in war. The whole book was a poetry.. the poetic description of an individual. I could not read and the book continually, its need to feel each word… feel the pain, the sorrow and blueness of war siege city.
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The obscure heaps on the obscure, rubs against itself, and ignites into clarity.”

This quote epitomizes my experience of this book. Although technically written in prose, this book is a poetic journey through Mahmoud Darwish’s experience as a displaced Palestinian of the 1982 bombardment of Beirut. Darwish is one of the most renown poets in the Arabic speaking world, and even in prose his words and metaphors strike deep.

The episodes in this book range from highly personal experiences of trauma
Abeer Abdullah
Written about a single summer day in beirut, 1982, it documents the siege of beirut in a way so personal it feels as if it came from right under the skin. You march along with one man and his thought stream, all the most painful and exhausting and absurd parts of it. Being a palestinian, being a palestinian in exile, being a palestinian in beirut, being in love, not being in love, wanting coffee, being a poet in war times, the enitre book is a question on what it means to be! and it's gorgeous a ...more
feux d'artifice
man I wish I could read this in the original language because something tells me it's achingly beautiful.

I read the French translation to this book, and there's a mental barrier there because I'm still not good at appreciating poetic turn of phrases in French. but still even with my lacking abilities I find it beautiful.

reading this was kind of like reading little glimpses into a life. it kind of reminded me of one day in the life of Ivan denisovich except the story is broken up, re
And as we move away, we can see ourselves turning into memories. We are these memories. As of this moment, we’ll remember each other as we’ll remember a distant world disappearing into a blueness more blue than it used to be. We’ll part in the pitch of longing.
Alone. Loneliness without end. Was he alone from the very beginning without knowing it? Has he come early or late, this bearer of a matchstick in the oil fields? Alone, like a verse from a lyric with no beginning and no en
It took me a bit to get into this book. I liked the poems embedded in the prose more than some of the prose itself. Also, I clearly don't know enough about this history to get all of the references. I wasn't thrilled with the portrayal of women in this book, either as solely objects of desire or nagging wives. And yet, there are some really profound and beautiful reflections on being a Palestinian in Beirut during this time.

"Is there anything more cruel than this absence: that you should not be
Zohra Star
May 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I reread this book like I reread Camus' The Stranger and Sartre's Nausea and Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet. Has the same existentialist feel, but unlike these European authors (and one European/Algerian Colonist), there is a stronger political force pushing that feeling of "diquiet" within the poet in the midst of Beirut as it is being bombed.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hala Alzaghal
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This year has been highly influenced by Darwish since the start. between every other book, I read one of his, and they come with the right words at the needed time. And this time I need more than his limited words in a poem, I needed this endless dialogue between me and him, his constant words running over and over again without interruption or breaks, all taken down in one long sip. It is familiar, it is pleasant, satisfying and long enough to keep you going till the very end. It does feel like ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like his writing style, and I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Sometimes I got a bit lost, and I can't help but wonder if that is related to translation, even though that was done very well from what I can tell. I may need to read this book again before I can truly know how I feel about it, it gets a bit heady sometimes but it's so good.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The thought stream of August 6, 1982 in West Beirut.
Nick Grammos
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, arabic
A book I could only read once. I have dipped into it here and there, but the pain of each sentence is unbearable. And I'm only distant from the action of such a story by a generation and a continent. (I'm thinking my own parents living through bombings, war and civil war and dislocation).

I can read over books by Dostoievsky, Gogol, Joyce, Murnane, Auster, Plath, Austen, Isherwood, but not this.
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
As with the other war memoirs I've read, this book made me both grateful and ashamed to be human. We do such tremendously awful things to one another, but the fire of conflict invariably forges remarkable works of art. I liked this book much more than I expected to, given that I'm not really invested in the subject matter in any significant way. The book was given to me as a graduation present years ago, and I only now got around to reading it. And while I wasn't blown away, I'm glad to have spe ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prose, poetry, autobiography, political views with a history lesson thrown in are woven together so tightly here that it is impossible to tell them apart. The result is something only Darwish could pull off with any semblance of success.

This isn't the Darwish that I'm used to- it's much sharper. I have never felt sheer anger radiate from his words the way it does here- and sometimes that makes the beauty a little bit less obvious. But it's effective, if perhaps not in the same direct
Leah Eggimann
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have read other books by Darwish and I was very impressed with this book. It's a good change of pace for Darwish, I love the format of a sort of "epic poem". It really worked with his style of writing. This book not only gives insight of life during the Lebanese Civil War, but also pulls you in and makes you feel like you're actually there. Darwish used much symbolism in this book which also helped to set the mood of the book: hopelessness. The symbols of coffee, death, new life, and doves h
Nabil Simaan
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in Arabic and in its English translation. The book is an amazing work bridging prose and poetry. It covers the authors experience living through the siege on Beirut. You will be able to detect the writing style changes as the isolation of the writer is longer. The first 50 pages are amazingly engaging. Towards the end the book gets a bit heavy to read. Overall it is a highly recommended read but then I am biased since the author is one of my favorite poets ( probably the most re ...more
A somewhat strange yet hauntingly appealing book. I was completely unfamiliar with Darwish before reading this book -- and I wasn't all that informed on Palestine, either. Suffice to say, I didn't always understand what Darwish was conveying. Still, there is a unique quality to his writing, stories within stories that are symbolized with just a few words. I suspect that I could reread this book several times throughout my life, always finding something new that resonates within me.
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-changers
Beautiful, wandering, difficult, uneven, a touch misogynistic. And yet, and still: the best book I've read in years.

If you make it to the aroma of coffee on page 6, you'll likely be hooked.

The book is best paired with a viewing of Waltz With Bashir.

I discovered this via a quote in an artwork at the SF MOMA. The quote and more info on the art:
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle East specialists, people who like books about war and poets writing prose
I just finished this one and I was actually surprised that I liked it. I love Darwish, but a friend told me that in this case, he should have stuck to poetry. It is rambling, but I imagine that the sense of chaos I often felt while reading it mirrors Beirut in 1982, and it is telling that the book is subtitled "August, Beirut, 1982," because he seamlessly mixes time and space throughout. Not a bad read, if you're used to depressing Palestinian literature.
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I struggled with the layers of this book, have never been good at parsing poetry. Fell in love with Darwish in college, seemed to have a harder time the second round. A stinging indictment of the war criminal state of Israel simply by showing a day in the life of a man living through the 1982 seige of Beirut.
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book throws time out the window and leaves the reader bare to experience the moment to moment existence of life in a war zone... The text moves, unfolds, ripples and denies any form of scientific reality.... FANTASTIC
Antonio Delgado
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Forgetfulness is the materiality of the homeland destroyed by the 1982 invasion of Beirut. Memory is the poetic identity created by writing the poem, which becomes the homeland that is constantly approaching the void, or, the realm of the undead.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I learned so much from this book. It was amazing to see exile without relocation from the eyes of an exile, especial a poet. The stream of consciousness is at times rather difficult to follow, but just keep reading and eventually all the lines meet again.
Mark Nenadov
Prose poetry by a Palestinian man living in Lebanon in 1982 when Israel attacked. Overall it is an OK read with some definitely brilliant moments sprinkled inbetween.
Eman Abdullah
Dec 21, 2014 marked it as to-read
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
moral outrage 1 11 Nov 12, 2013 08:24PM  
و 1 8 Mar 09, 2013 03:42AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • يوميات امرأة لا مبالية
  • أنا الموقع أدناه
  • أكاذيب سمكة
  • اعتقال لحظة هاربة
  • أيام العجب والموت
  • أمل دنقل: الأعمال الكاملة
  • لافتات 2
  • الوقائع الغريبة في اختفاء سعيد أبي النحس المتشائل
  • Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground
  • دائمًا أنت بقلبي
  • ولدت هناك، ولدت هنا
  • ديوان إيليا أبو ماضي
  • Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories
  • أرواح عارية
See similar books…
محمود درويش
Mahmoud Darwish was a respected Palestinian poet and author who won numerous awards for his literary output and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet. In his work, Palestine became a metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile.

The Lotus Prize (1969; from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers)
Lenin Peace Prize (1983
“القهوة لا تُشرب على عجل، القهوةٌ أخت الوقت تُحْتَسى على مهل، القهوة صوت المذاق، صوت الرائحة، القهوة تأمّل وتغلغل في النفس وفي الذكريات” 1232 likes
“أريد رائحة القهوة ..
لا أريد غير رائحة القهوة ..
ولا أريد من الأيام كلها غير رائحة - القهوة -”
More quotes…