Nakba + 100

Call out to Palestinian authors    


British publishers, Comma Press, are inviting Palestinian authors to contribute to a new anthology of short stories set in the year 2048 – a century after the Nakba. Authors can be based in Palestine, Israel, or out in the wider diaspora; stories can be written in Arabic or English, and can be anything between 2000 and 6000 words (or the equivalent) in English.
       The idea is to offer fiction writers a space in which they can write, indirectly, and in new ways, about the Nakba. Much has been written about the Nakba already, historically, and in a retrospective way. But it has rarely been written about in a way that looks to the future.
      If you are considering writing a story specially for this project, you might wish to consider the following possibilities. The story could be set in a future version of Palestine (or what's left of it) and, by addressing that reality, explore the long-term consequences of Nakba indirectly. Alternatively it could use the future setting (2048) to explore a metaphor or allegory for what happened in 1948, i.e. the story could deal with some other expulsion in the year 2048, on another part of the planet (or even on a different planet!) which has parallels with the what happened to Palestinians in 1948. Or it could explore different kinds of expulsions, new 'nakbas' taking place in the way people think or live their lives (‘a Nakba of the consciousness’). A fourth approach might be to look at a new problem that is emerging for the first time, now, in Palestine, and extrapolate that to the year 2048. For instance, it could focus on a particular, new Israeli tactic or technology (e.g. drones) and imagine what that might look like (or what might be possible with that technology) in the year 2048.
      We realise that science fiction isn't the most popular of genres in Palestinian (or Arabic) literature, and there may be very good reasons for this. But sometimes writing about the future (which can be fantastical, absurd, different, odd, etc,) can be a good way of saying something new and pertinent about the present. The future offers a blank canvas, or a laboratory in which particular things in the present (or the past) can be distilled, extracted and looked at in their purest form.
     The best science fiction, people always say, is more about the present it's written in than the future it's set in. George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is more about 1948 (when it was written) than it is about the actual year 1984.   In this sense, the stories we hope to publish will be as much about the Nakba as history books about 1948 are, although they will ostensibly be about the future.
    Please note: Your vision of the future can be positive, but often science fiction works best when it offers negative, dystopian visions of the future, that is to say when it acts as a stark warning about how bad things might get if they carry on the way they are going. This is an opportunity, therefore, to explore the possible further desolation of Palestine’s future, what future crimes, perversions of the truth, and extremities may yet beset Palestine’s people - if things carry on the way as they are. In this sense, we expect some of the most powerful stories will be the starkest (just as the original Nakba was stark), as they will shock people into reconsidering the ongoing reality of Palestine today.
     Comma recently launched the first book in this series - 'Iraq + 100' - which featured stories set 100 years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. There has already been a huge amount of interest in it, as an idea. It got re-tweeted on Twitter over a thousand times, and over a quarter of a million people saw it.   It’s had some great reviews around the world. For instance, BBC World News.

Initial deadline: 1st September 2017 
Questions and submissions to: Ra.Page@commapress.co.uk

Read this in Arabic here