This week brings a starred Publishers Weekly review of Adania Shibli’s Touch:
Adania Shibli, trans. from the Arabic by Paula Haydar, Interlink/Clockroot, $13 paper (72p) ISBN 9781566568074
Celebrated young Palestinian writer Shibli—a playwright, author and essayist now located in the UK—makes her American debut with an exquisite, powerful novella that transports readers to her West Bank homeland. In spare prose, Shibli follows an unnamed little girl, the youngest in a large Palestinian family, as she examines her world and tries to understand her place in it. Though focused on the finest details—flakes of rust against skin, the softness of grass—Shibli takes readers to the center of a family and a culture, using the same careful, dispassionate observation to report everyday events like the father’s shaving as she does to depict the death of a sibling in area violence. Like a great volume of poetry, Shibli’s first novel (her second is forthcoming from Clockroot) has rhythm and unexpected momentum, and cries for re-reading.
… And a wonderful review at the Electronic Intifada (in full here):
Whatever it is—a dream, memory fragments, poems folded into sun and grass—Touch is both remarkable and difficult, beautifully lucid and yet also mysterious. The book is divided into sections entitled “Colors,” “Silence,” “Movement,” “Language” and “The Wall” …. Within this framework the little girl comes of age, her ordinary experiences of first love, school mishaps and sibling rivalries rendered extraordinary by the sensuous prose, and intensified by the heartbreaking backdrop against which they occur, a death whose impact tears apart the fabric of her family’s life. …
This is not a book to be shelved once finished. It calls to you softly, insistently, until you pick it up again and allow yourself to be tugged back in… [P]erhaps this is what Touch can be called, a question, rather than a novel — that place from where all searches begin.