Jerusalem Stands Alone

By turns bleak, nostalgic, and lighthearted, Jerusalem Stands Alone explores the interconnected lives of its mostly Palestinian cast. This series of quick moving vignettes tells the story of occupied Jerusalem—tales of the daily tribulations and personal revelations of its narrators. The stories, entwined around themes of family and identity, diverge in viewpoint and chronology but ultimately unite to reveal the tapestry of Palestinian Jerusalem. The settings evoke the past—churches, alleys, and people who are gone but whose spirits yearn to be remembered. The characters are sons and mothers, soldiers and wives, all of whom unveil themselves in sometimes poignant, sometimes bittersweet memories. As its history rises up through the present struggles and hopes of its people, the deepest, most personal layers of Jerusalem are revealed.

"Intricately weaving past and present, humour and pain, love and loss, Jerusalem Stands Alone is a beautiful homage to a living, breathing city so often reduced to nothing more than a pawn in political games."

Middle East Monitor

"In these poetic, interconnected microfictions, Shukair excels in capturing the political, social, and historic tensions of an ancient city under occupation. A contemplative feast of deep, subtle undertones, Shukair's writing mobilizes an intimate, calm narrative to explore the convulsions lurking beneath the strained surface of Jerusalem."

Hisham Bustani,


author of The Perception of Meaning

"Shukair tenderly and brilliantly explores the city's deep soul, through gorgeous lyrical portraits of its inhabitants. Poets will love this book, elegantly translated by Nicole Fares. Reading it feels like a healing. Jerusalem Stands Alone will be the enduring truth, not the pitiful passing news."

Naomi Shihab Nye,


author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

"Shukair’s literary work is an elegant reflection of Jerusalem as a place called 'home' in the eyes of Palestinians who are living there. Fares’ professional translation into English is an enhancement to this reflection, preserving the lyrical flow of the original work."

Middle East Librarians Association


The Girl

           ASMAHAN BECOMES FLUSTERED when she goes to the bathroom to wash up. When she takes off her dress, she sees blood on the fabric but calms down when she remembers her mother’s detailed explanation of what would happen. “You’re about to become an adult,” her mother said. This pleases Asmahan; she’s excited to experience womanhood.

           She opens the door and frantically calls her mother who holds her and kisses her tenderly, hiding her own fear of what the girl’s future might hold. That day, Asmahan becomes a woman (or so she thinks).




          FEAR IS IN THE MARKETS AND THE STREETS, beneath the entryways and porches. The father fears for his house and shop, convinced of the treachery of the times. The son is scared of failing his exam and of girls rejecting him when it’s time to get married because of his slight limp from an old illness. The mother fears for her daughter, who has just developed breasts, and the daughter is scared of the nightmares stalking her sleep. Meanwhile, the grandmother is afraid because she doesn’t know how her granddaughter will behave now that she’s grown (the grandmother thinks) two demons on her chest.

Excerpt published in TLV1 podcast, Israel in Translation



Stands Alone