Algiers, Third World Capital by Elaine Mokhtefi review – Black Panthers, freedom fighters, revolutionaries

In the 1960s Algeria became a beacon to the world, and exiled artists, intellectuals and guerrilla fighters flocked there. The militant author met them all

“This is a story with a beginning and an end,” Elaine Mokhtefi writes in the preface to her extraordinary memoir. The title is a bit misleading – this is no dry history – but it carries something of the revolutionary optimism of her tale’s beginnings, and, in its anachronism, something too of the heartache of its ending. Because who can even talk of a first or a third world any more, rather than a whole planet of uncertainty and want, dotted here and there with well-guarded islands of cosmopolitan abundance? And who can remember anything as unitary as a capital, or as beautiful as a solidarity that doesn’t care for borders?

Mokhtefi, born Elaine Klein in prosaic Hempstead, New York, was 23 when she moved to Paris ...

Where the Line Is Drawn review – can a friendship survive the occupation of Palestine?

The West Bank writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh documents his troubled relationship with an Israeli with typical grace and powerIt is difficult not to wonder what kind of a man Raja Shehadeh might have become had he been born nearly anywhere else. Surely, he would have been a writer in almost any incarnation, but what kind of writer? Not everyone gets to choose. Shehadeh was born in Ramallah in 1951, three years after the foundation of the Israeli state forced his parents and many thousands of other Palestinians to abandon their homes in the coastal city of Jaffa and take refuge where they could. As a young man, he sought out other worlds. He travelled to Britain to study law and to an ashram in Pondicherry to “try my hand”, he writes in Where the Line Is Drawn, “at a spiritual life”. He was soon called home when ...