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KAMAL BOULLATA

Kamal Boullata, Paris, March 1997. Photo: Serge Picard/Agence VU/Redux.

GRANADA STILL BEARS WITNESS to the golden age of Islamic culture in the palaces of its Alhambra, in the gardens of Generalife, and in the neighborhood of Albaicín, which grew across the Alhambra hills right before the fall. Inscribed in our collective memory as the last Andalusian city to be conquered by the Catholic kings in 1492, it is the perfect place for an Arab or a Muslim to meditate on exile. For centuries, poets, essayists, and moralists recalled Granada as our paradise lost—that is, until the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) sank in. Then Palestine became the fresh wound, the last loss, actively remembered and ideally reimagined. Perhaps because of its dreamy beauty and the antiquity of its tragedy, Granada became our erstwhile lieu de mémoire, summoning a resigned nostalgia and exaggerated visions of past grandeur.

I first met Kamal Boullata in the Alhambra in 1998. He,

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