The Old Ladies of Nazareth by Naim Attallah - review by Alan Rafferty

Alan Rafferty

Sisters Doing it for Themselves

The Old Ladies of Nazareth


Quartet Books 71pp £10

Lest extracts from this review appear in Private Eye, I should declare at its beginning that Naim Attallah once had the good fortune to be proprietor of the Literary Review (of which I am acting editor). He gave up his interest in the magazine some years before I arrived, and I have met him only once, as he was ascending the steps of the In and Out Club in St James’s Square on his way to the ceremony for this year’s Bad Sex Award, his face alight with the jubilation that all those attending that august event feel at having been invited. He asked me what I thought of his short new book, and I told him (as one must when put on the spot by any author, unpredictable and potentially dangerous breed that they are) that I liked it, very much. ‘Very much’ may have been an exaggeration resulting from the convivial spirit of the occasion, but I did enjoy this book, though I suspect that not everyone will.

Two elderly Palestinian sisters live in the tiny house in Nazareth that they have occupied since childhood, and subsist on the produce of their garden and their chicken coop – vegetables and eggs which they eat; flowers which they sell at the local market and to a nearby monastery. They

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