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!