Book Review: Fugitive Dreams

Ashok Subramanian
4 min readAug 9, 2023

Dear Ramsey,

As our interactions have grown over time, I’ve come to feel a level of familiarity that allows me to address you by your first name. I want to express my sincere gratitude for sharing the book with me in a way that resonates deeply — a personally signed copy. This thoughtful gesture reflects much about you. Allow me to acknowledge my inherent eagerness to receive such kindness.

‘Fugitive Dreams’ in my hands.

I readily admit that I’ve taken an extended period to delve into the book’s contents. Balancing the demands of my role as a venture capitalist and investment banker with my writing commitments has made my reading time a precious commodity. Nonetheless, please understand that I’ve dedicated the necessary attention to your book, recognizing its inherent value. Indeed, it’s a book worth cherishing.

The most profound literary works often emerge when authors draw upon their personal experiences, filtering their narratives through their unique perspectives. When a memoir interweaves personal stories with broader societal, national, and historical contexts, it transforms into a true embodiment of life and its era, capturing within its pages a fragment of history.

My location in Chennai, India, initially carried a historical bias that required shedding to fully absorb the Palestinian standpoint. India, having endured its share of occupations, invasions, and colonialism, has also witnessed episodes of extraconstitutional actions and autocratic tendencies, which I’ve come to oppose. The book’s premise originates from the Jewish aspiration to reclaim their ancestral lands. However, while acknowledging the tragedy of the Holocaust, it’s essential to recognize that they lack the right to displace and erase the indigenous inhabitants. It’s disheartening to observe the persistence of a colonial mindset akin to what the British executed globally, albeit now manifested by the Zionists. This prompts me to wonder why this cycle of victim-turned-oppressor is often disregarded. The book’s core message resonates deeply: the Israeli establishment has subjected the Palestinian people to unjust and atrocious treatment from the Nakba of 1948 to the present day.

The ongoing struggle between doves and hawks showcases the predominance of the latter. Yet, this isn’t a mere clash between the desire for “hard-earned peace” and a fragile “cloak-and-dagger peace agreement” like Oslo. Rather, it emphasizes that true peace can’t supplant the dignity and liberty of people, be it in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, or any corner of the world.

This isn’t just a tale of oppression; it’s an intensely personal journey of the protagonist (you, the author’s surrogate) that explores every facet of life — heritage, birth, childhood, love, livelihood, friendships, dreams, neighborhoods, memories, and aspirations.

Sameer embodies you, Ramsey. Your deliberate distancing from Sameer serves a dual purpose — it attempts to detach you from your painful memories while also providing room to narrate from Sameer’s vantage point. Yet, through Sameer’s narrative, your pain and anguish are palpable. The struggle against escalating atrocities while maintaining unwavering resolve defines the book’s essence, and this narrative technique, where the author-surrogate technique is at play, effectively brings forth the book’s essence.

“Fugitive Dreams” is as much a personal tale as it is a historical record. It’s as if I witnessed history unfolding before my eyes — your family, friends, classmates, and neighbors enduring, surviving, and resisting the systematic oppression facilitated by force, barricades, walls, resource deprivation, and more. Every individual in the book emerges as a hero, displaying a zest for life amid adversity.

The book encapsulates the tumult, disillusionment, despair, and agony experienced by Sameer’s people, the Palestinians. It serves as a tour through the region, showcasing its marvels, historical glories, and the camaraderie of its inhabitants before the era of British and Israeli influence. It’s also a portrayal of the protagonist’s family, navigating life’s peaks and valleys. However, the crux lies in Sameer’s struggle with identity, torn between his Palestinian roots and his newfound home in the United States.

With each passage, the dream of Palestine slips further away due to insufficient global support, biased UN stances, and the aid extended by the United States. Amid my captivation by the deteriorating Palestinian situation, my concerns grew for Sameer and his family. Each page unveiled tense and intense circumstances, often leading to heart-pounding moments.

However, Ramsey, I’m aware you’re here to recount this tale of dreams. It is evident that Sameer embodies your aspirations and dreams, and I’ve accompanied him on train rides and flights, pondered his dilemmas during long walks, and shared in the joy and sorrow of his family and people as I turned the pages. Today, I feel a connection not just to the book but also to Palestine and your family.

This explains why I invested time in reading “Fugitive Dreams.” I refrained from detailing specific locations, names, and events, as I wanted this letter to emanate from the heart — from a place of friendship, admiration, and kinship. I may revisit these words, for your book is a treasure, and more importantly, it’s a gift from you.

Warm regards,

Ashok Subramanian

Chennai, August 9, 2023



Ashok Subramanian

A poetic mind. Imagines characters, plots. Loves Philosophy, Literature and Science. Poetry-Short Stories-Novels- Poetry Reviews-Book Reviews