The experience Barghouti describes--a displaced person is allowed to return to the hometown from which he was forcibly separated, not in conditions of freedom, but in an awkward power-sharing arrangement wherein the conquerors retain power--is not unique to Palestinians. And it is far from universal among Palestinians, being a privilege reserved to a minority of the displaced, and now effectively closed to nearly all. Prolonged statelessness is now a condition of being for Syrians, Rohingya, Somalis, Sri Lankan Tamils.... It does not seem likely that the now growing list of groupings will begin to diminish any time soon. Worldwide, there are more refugees and other displaced persons than there are Britons.
Nor is Israel the only agent of oppression. It was the police of Anwar Sadat who saw to it that Barghouti would be separated from his wife, the Egyptian novelist and literary scholar Radwa Ashour, and their son Tamim for most of the latter's childhood. In another generation, Ashour might have dutifully followed her husband in his wanderings, but Barghouti's feminism leaves traces throughout his narrative and seems sincerely felt--better to let her have a career, and for their child to grow up in a place that is at least partially home, than to make her into a camp-follower. He is critical throughout, not only of states and powers, but of political parties, social movements, and not least of all, himself--his old poems, his fateful choices, his rages, and his responses to feelings of loss.
The memoir is powerful, but leaves one with a desire to read him in his preferred medium, and that is something I should do soon.