The latest book by Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli, Minor Detail, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Translated Literature, and longlisted for the International Booker Prize. Shibli talks about what it means that she doesn’t write about Palestine but rather from Palestine. And why for her, as a writer, so many of the questions of colonization, dehumanization, and ethnonationalism come down to questions of language. What types of sentences are created by the victors versus the vanquished? What shapes do the stories of each take? What happens to a language that can be only spoken in whispers? How do these two different approaches to language change one’s relationship to history, to memory? How can language’s failure, the absence of language, silence, even weakness, be brought into language and used against the dictatorship of a seamless, linear narrative?
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