adania shibli in lahore

back at the lahore literary festival. wonderful to hear palestinian writer adania shibli talk about her stunning book, minor detail. not sure about the panel – she was paired with william sieghart, a british entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist, who kept talking about the ‘conflict’ and how dialogue can solve all problems.

so glad adania addressed the use of language and her issues with the word conflict. it’s colonialism, she said. she explained how language can become complicit in a crime, how it can disappear it, and that there is no dearth of dialogue between palestinians and israelis – there is constant contact but it’s a certain kind of interaction, based on power differentials, where palestinians are forced to confront and challenge power structures day in, day out.

adania spoke about her love for the arabic language, how playful, free, and open it is. how important it is to palestinians. ‘adab’ in arabic means both literature and ethics. she also spoke about translation and how it’s essential, even in english, to create a scarred language with a memory of arabic.

finally, she talked a lot about narration and silences. the impossibility of narrating. the linear structure (beginning, middle, end) is not accessible to palestinians, therefore she can only imitate coherence. it’s better to accept silence rather than put words in someone’s mouth. we come to language from two sides of silence – both the reader and writer engage with language in silence.

my favorite session so far.

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