The first chunk of A Palestinian Tale can be thought of as composed of three parts. These were written in reverse order. First there was a short story called The Marriage. It is based on a Palestinian folktale called The Louse.
In The Marriage, a group of children along with two teenagers, Hassan and Raghda, discover a desolate place utterly devoid of life. In the original story, they encounter a man weeping among the ruins:
“Why are you weeping?” asked Raghda.
“Did the stones not tell you? They are more eloquent than I.” The man rubbed his fist into his eye. “The parasite. The water, the ruins, the trees, they will all tell the same story. But I am human, so I suppose it is my duty to tell you in our own tongue.
The parasite, it lived on blood. A vile thing, small, winged. It was like a sliver, but grew fat and round with red blood when it gorged itself. It was married to another parasite, a hopping thing that burrows into the fur of animals, the hair of people.
Its wife was baking bread. The parasite climbed into the oven to fetch the loaves for her. It was burned alive. The wife covered itself in ashes and sat outside their house. When the house asked what had happened, it collapsed in grief to hear the tale. The trees, the spring, the stones… all heard the tale, all grieved, all died…”
This tragedy is an inversion of another Palestinian folktale about the communal bonds of village life, a story called How Fox Got His Tail Back.