Victoria Brittain, Rawan Yaghi, Jehan Alfarra (photo: Maha Rahwanji)
On 15 January the P21 gallery in London saw the launch of both a book and a whole new writing project, which stems largely from the experiences of young Palestinians during the apocalyptic attacks on Gaza five years ago. But the 23 contributions – written in English – are not straightforward factual narratives; they are more subtle, fictionalised expressions of the writers’ lives, hopes and aspirations, composed under the harshest of conditions. (The introduction to the book explains just how harsh.) Unsurprisingly, recurring themes are death and the struggle for physical and psychological survival, but there are also shafts of humour and poetic exaltation.
A packed audience met two young contributors, Rawan Yaghi and Jehan Alfarra, now studying in Oxford, who talked about the importance of writing – mostly in the form of blogs – in enabling so many of the younger generation, under siege for as long as they can remember, to communicate with the outside world.
The brains behind the project, Refaat Alareer, and another contributor, Mohammed Suliman, joined in the conversation by Skype from Malaysia. Refaat is excited by the interest shown in the book worldwide, and there are plans to translate Gaza writes back into several languages. Since he had a huge response in Gaza to his initial call for contributions, he is already planning a second book. Watch this space!!
Gaza writes back is published by Just World Books
Click here for details: http://justworldbooks.com/gaza-writes-back/