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Articles tagged "Palestinian Literature"

The Shape of Time: New Palestinian Writing

—Are you there? —Where? —Here? —You mean there? —I mean do you see the sea? —I see sand. —But do you see the sea? —I see time waiting for us. —You mean you see every ruin in us? —I see every shore in us. —So we are lost. —No, just drawing what shapes us. —Like the sea does. —Like the sea has. —I’ll wait for you by the shore? —You mean by our longing. —I mean I don’t know where...

Writing the Lives of Gaza: Video Interview with Atef Abu Saif

Palestinian writer Atef Abu Saif, a finalist for the 2015 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, joined Words without Borders via Skype to read from his work and discuss the importance of writing the Palestinian experience beyond politics.

Long Distance

Then my father asks what my plans are and I make the mistake of telling him that Ignacio’s girlfriend is coming by so we can go for lunch. “And he’s not going?” Dad asks. “He’s away,” I say. He says nothing. I struggle to picture him on the other end of the line. “Dad?” I ask, hearing him grunt. “Don’t you go fooling around with her,” he says. I didn’t expect this from him, let alone in these terms....

Father My Unborn Son

I spill twenty liters of darkness and a childhood up against the wall A Stone-Age hand a paperback Koran Maybe I could have loved you if I was your father and not your son

Crossing Language Boundaries in Palestine’s Emerging-Writer Workshops

PalFest – the Palestine Festival of Literature – took place this year in the last week of May. It was the festival’s sixth year and, as in other years, it flew in more than a dozen artists and writers to travel with the increasingly elaborate festival. For the first time, there were two separate groups: a southern group in Gaza and a northern group that traveled to Ramallah, Birzeit, Jerusalem, Hebron, Haifa, and Nablus. Author Jeremy Harding traveled to more than a...

Life without Me

What hurts me in all this is that my parents will be forced to bury me before themselves. I feel guilt gnawing at me. I do not know who vomited out this hypothesis, in between the cheap maxims and philosophies that this world is full of, made out of them this red line, the  extent of how appalling fate and its like are capable of being in what they suggest to us: How harsh it is for a father to bury one of his sons . . . This is what Walaa, who worked the job of a...

The Tragedy of Narcissus The Comedy of Silver

They returned… from the end of the long tunnel to their mirrors…they returned when they recovered their brothers' salt, single or in groups, they returned from the myths of defending citadels to what is simple in speech. They won't need to raise their hands or banners to miracles anymore, if they choose. They returned to celebrate the water of their existence, to organize this air and wed their sons to their daughters; to make a body hidden in marble dance and...

House Work

-1- How often did I go in the morning to Thursday's market. I bought our house supplies, and chose an orchid and mailed the letters. A rain made me wet and filled me with the scent of oranges. Did you tell me once that I was a pregnant palm tree, or did I imagine that? If you don't find me fanning you, don't fear the feeble air, and sleep, my love, a blissful sleep . . . -2- How often? At noon, I brandished my mirrors. I prepared myself for a happy...

Nora in Wonderland

Unlike Alice's adventures, Nora's didn't start with the appearance of a late and harried rabbit, checking its waistcoat watch. In fact, hers began immediately after her birth, which was sometime in April 2002. It's safe to assume that she was born in the huge educational compound in Ramallah, under an olive tree or some bushes. On several hundred acres of land surrounded by a high wall on all sides, it accommodates the sleeping quarters and training facilities for young...

Transformations in Palestinian Literature

Leo Tolstoy prefaced his Anna Karenina with the following statement: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Palestinians today are unlucky enough to be counted among the world's leading families of multifarious misery, the Zionist project having transformed them, time and again, into refugees in far-flung places-and also into refugees on the land of Palestine in which they were born. Some of them have had to live through the experience of...

Time, Place, and Identity in the Literature of the “1948 Region”

A contemporary, retroactive review of the cultural identity of the Palestinian Arabs living inside Israel can form a basis for the critical study of the literary culture of this geographic area that is also known as the 1948 Region. The 1948 Region is delineated by a specific historical juncture and the momentous events related to it, which has had a pervasive, divisive, and acute influence not only on the culture of the Palestinians inside Israel-who are often referred to as Palestinians...

Mordechai’s Mustache and His Wife’s Cats

Mordechai is a simple person, like tens of thousands of others in Tel Aviv (though he would insist that there are few like him there). He enjoys living his easy and comfortable life, gives no one grief, and no one gives him grief. That's why Mordechai's neighbors like him: he doesn't hassle them. Mordechai was in the army, and after his discharge he continued to see himself as a soldier-as indeed he was, in the reserves. He has held many different jobs, simple trades...

Silence

Throngs of sound advance toward the little girl, each throng attempting to reach her ears first before the others, to come down on them like a gavel, and her ears take them all in. After her brother screams, she hears a fly, then it flutters away, so she hears the whisper of the electric meter. In the entire world, she cannot find a single moment of silence. The sounds that invade her ears do not leave, but form layers, one on top of the other. She puts her fingers in her ears in an...

Rababa

With the arrival of the first signs of spring at the end of the second month of the year, on the third day after the rains had stopped, the rababa1 appeared at the military checkpoint, and what is meant here is not the white cloud, the classical, linguistic meaning of the word, whose appearance did not catch anybody's attention. Winter's spring is more pristine and beautiful than spring itself. The wash of the world has dried, but it is still fresh, soft, fragrant, free of the...

My City’s Ceiling Is Too Tight

I am now overflowing beyond my name, beyond my body and going out of my details to the pain of place while my heart is as cool as a cloud, a lonely female. As for my hands, they protect my heart from an imminent pain and offer my life as a sacrifice for a moment of neutrality or for a journey to it. My poetry is deficient it does not explain the female within me but may slightly explain the exile and the night crowded with dreams that shine in the dark. My city's...

Diary

Mahmoud Darwish has recently begun a diary: a daily record of reflections, observations, and intimate personal commentary on the ordinary life of Palestinians today. The following sections were among fourteen published in the Summer/Winter 2006 edition of Al Karmel, the Palestinian literary Journal Darwish edits. Enemy I was there a month ago I was there a year ago I was there always, as if I had never been anywhere else In the year '82 of the last century something happened to...

Longing Inspired by the Law of Gravity

Time's out and I'm home alone with the shadow I cast Gone is the law of the universe, scattered by frivolous fate Nothing to hold down my things Nothing to weigh them to the floor My possessions have flown, they belong to others My chair, my cupboard, the revolving stool Alone with the shadow I cast No father, no mother No brothers, no sisters to swell The house full with laughter Nothing but loneliness and grief And the rubble of months, the years Bend my back,...

The Shoes

Perhaps it is merely a clever joke, but it has become a story, everybody's story. No one knew why Nizar insisted on going to Ramallah. The situation is not encouraging—the military checkpoints, the humiliations, the grueling walk through the hills and over the barriers made of dirt. Nevertheless, with a laborer's determination, Nizar insisted: There is a problem that must be resolved in Ramallah. He must go. "I will bear the burden of the road . . . we've grown...

Still Life: Scenes in Gaza Time

Discovery He discovered suddenly that Gaza had a sea-a big sea too. It was blue-like a dark-colored painting-and in the evening the sun resembled a giant orange plunging into the watery abyss as it disappeared into the sea. Similarly, he discovered that a few kilometers from the shore a number of ships rode the waves at the heart of the sea and that their lights shone by night, like street lamps, illuminating a path through the sea. It was unmarked but afforded him an avenue to see far...

Is This Home?

In the days prior to my return I had decided to assume a cool demeanor and contemplate my country as a tourist might, and not as a rapturous and homesick returnee. I wanted to hold the moment in my hands, examine it, and write up the experience. And I wanted to minimize, to the extent possible, any emotional entanglement on my part, so that I could see things clearly. I've gotten tired of emotional entanglement . . . My entire life has been full of that. Now I am an old man who wants...

Jameel Bouthaina, and I

We grew older, Jameel Bouthaina and I, each alone, in two separate eras . . . It is time that does what sun and wind do: it polishes us then kills us whenever the mind bears the heart's passion, or whenever the heart reaches its wisdom Jameel! does she grow old, like you, like me, Bouthaina? She grows old, my friend, outside the heart in others' eyes. But inside me the gazelle bathes in the spring that pours out of her being Is that her, or is that her...

from Picture, Icon, Old Testament

The story began for me when I fled a family marriage arranged by my mother's brother. In rebellion, I accepted a post in a forgotten village at the city's far perimeter. But my troubled conscience, and the longing I felt for my artist uncle, yielded the uneasy feeling that I must hold myself responsible for his sorrows, his disappointment and his pleas. He had invested all his hopes in me, having seen my attentiveness-mouth hanging open-to his projections and sketches and his...

Nothing but Iraq (March 29, 2003)

I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain: Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq. And nothing but an echo replies I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space A woman triumphed over the sterility of mist She bequeathed to us earth and exile . . . For poetry is born in Iraq, So be Iraqi to become a poet, my friend. I remember as-Sayyab . . . He didn't find life as he imagined it Between the Tigris and the Euphrates, and He didn't think of the herbs of immortality Like...
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