Archive for February, 2012

“Fevered bodies, purloined letters”

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

A thoughtful review of Adania Shibli’s We Are All Equally Far from Love, translated by Paul Starkey, appears in today’s Daily Star:

Eight years ago, when the Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli was still living in Ramallah and hadn’t yet moved to London, she told the Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif that life under occupation, even with an Israeli passport, pushes a writer to retreat into “a kind of autism.

Reality now is too frightening, impossible to grasp,” she said. “You could say that fiction becomes a kind of perversion.” Everything about the occupation “affects my writing,” she explained. “I can’t work for very long. It’s as though concentration becomes claustrophobic. The situation controls you. It affects you like a fever.”

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that so many of the characters in Shibli’s fiction – particularly in her second novel, “We Are All Equally Far From Love,” translated by Paul Starkey and published this month by Clockroot Books – are so often fevered and perverse, driven not to deviancy but to bottomless and self-destructive hatred.

Read in full here.

“For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings”: Alex Epstein on literature and social media

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Over at “The Outlet,” the blog of Electric Literature, Alex Epstein discusses his new experiment in publishing: putting his newest book up for free in its entirety on Facebook.

My new book, For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings, will be published in print in Hebrew in a couple of months. But at the beginning of January 2012 I decided to try something new, and published a free digital copy of it on… Facebook.

The idea of publishing an entire new collection of very short stories on Facebook was, in part, an experiment to see how literature can become more social.

Read the rest here. And in celebration/solidarity, Electric Literature is also publishing some newly translated Epstein stories on their own Facebook page.

(Want more? May we suggest Epstein’s Lunar Savings Time and Blue Has No South, both available in print and (in Google’s ebookstore) ebook form (if not yet on Facebook…)?)

We Are All Equally Far from Love “demands to be read”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The New York Journal of Books has just reviewed Adania Shibli’s We Are All Equally Far from Love (translated from the Arabic by Paul Starkey). According to reviewer Viv Young, this is “not a book to be picked up and put down” and “quite riveting”; “If there is a consistency running through every one of these stories, it is the intensity Ms. Shibli brings to each human emotion she examines.” Read in full here.

Adania Shibli, “On East–West Dialogue,” at the Kenyon Review

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Good news comes in pairs? Adania Shibli’s new novel We Are All Equally Far from Love is now out in the world, and today the Kenyon Review Online has published one of my favorite essays by Adania—or rather, one of my favorite essays altogether—”On East–West Dialogue,” translated by Suneela Mubayi. A taste:

I arrive at Lydd airport. At passport control, I present my passport through a small opening in the glass panel to the officer sitting behind it. We wait a little until first three security personnel arrive, then four others—two policemen and a policewoman, and an interrogator from the Israeli intelligence services accompanied by a young woman who remains with us during questioning, most likely for the same reason that male doctors summon a female nurse to remain in the room when a woman’s reproductive organs are examined. The intelligence services want to examine my private world, in an interview that will not take long, the interrogator assures me, if I “cooperate” with them. I have just arrived from Berlin. I stayed there approximately two months, participating in a project called the “West–Eastern Divan” that aims to foster dialogue between the East and the West. Why should the subject of East and West concern me? I let my thoughts flow like water over sand, spontaneously sneaking between the grains, so they may find an answer to the question.

…. In the end, I resort to science instead of nature. I recall what my nephew told me several years ago. In one of the medicine classes he was attending at university, the lecturer asked the students what they thought was the primary cause of lung cancer. Smoking, replied one of the students. The lecturer commented that that was the correct answer, then asked, what was the second most common cause of lung cancer? No one answered. “Smoking,” he responded. What was the third? Smoking. The fourth? Smoking. The fifth? Smoking. The sixth? Smoking. The seventh? Smoking. The eighth? Smoking. The ninth? Smoking. The top nine causes of lung cancer are smoking. It may be said that at least the top four causes of my participation in any activity whose subject is East–West dialogue are money. And if the amount were doubled, it could then be said that the top nine causes of my participation in activities of this kind are money.

But that’s just the beginning. Read the rest here!