“None of my characters are rooted to a particular place, and that makes all of them marginalized, outsiders, or outcasts,” says Randa Jarrar, an accomplished author, translator, and professor at California State University, Fresno. As a Palestinian American, Jarrar is intimately familiar with the struggles of identity and belonging, and brings that experience to her work. “That’s what makes for good writing,” she says. “When you write from the point of view of someone who is not inside the norm.”
While developing his latest poetry collection, the aptly named Textu (text + haiku), Palestinian-American poet and physician Fady Joudah spent a lot of time on his smartphone. This ubiquitous device may seem like the enemy of good art, but Joudah explains his modern methodology in the book’s short introduction.
An author and translator from Palestine are among four literary figures honored in the 2014 King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies Translation of Arabic Literature Award. The award, which is co-sponsored by the King Fahd Center at the University of Arkansas and Syracuse University Press, includes a cash prize for the writers and translators but – perhaps more importantly – publication for the translated titles.
When we think of Palestine, most of us probably think of a destroyed Gaza and occupied West Bank. We think of rockets and tunnels, settlers and checkpoints. We might think of the Palestinian people as a whole, but rarely do we think about individuals, the stories of the people who live there. Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation addresses this discrepancy, providing a deeper understanding of who the Palestinian people are, and their experience of living in occupied territories.
Early next year, book groups around the US will delve into a historical saga set in the city of Jenin, bringing together readers to learn about the story of modern Palestine. The reading campaign — which will hopefully spread arond the world — is called “One Book — Many Communities.”
Poetry and prose by Palestinian writers has been celebrated by the organizers of two international literary awards. The longlist for the Sheikh Zayed Prize — an Arabic culture award — features three Palestinian writers. Probably the best-known Palestinian on the longlist is Ghassan Zaqtan, whose poetry collection Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me, translated by Fady Joudeh, won the Griffin Prize in 2013.
It is hard to talk about modern Palestinian culture without mentioning Mahmoud Darwish. The late Palestinian “poet laureate,” one of the greatest poets writing in Arabic in the twentieth century, Darwish’s brilliance looms large, six years after his death. (photo: WHAT_4 via photopin cc)
Somehow, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, reading from Jayne Cortez's "I Am New York City" at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, made the city's flaws—from the insults to the bedbugs—sound endearing. Poets House, which operates a 60,000-volume poetry library in Battery Park City and holds poetry events and workshops, honored Ms. Nye on Monday night with its biennial "Betty" award...
Pamela Olson transports audiences with Palestine’s enchantments in her book, website, and talks. Fast Times in Palestine's ”Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland” describes the warm welcome of Palestine's famously generous people and their courage in outlasting the “unendurable.” Olson recently charmed receptive listeners at two hospitable Columbus churches–the First Unitarian Universalist, March 23, and St. John’s Evangelical Protestant, March 24–with stories like these, choosing different episodes for each gathering.