The Book of Ramallah
A City in Short Fiction
Book type: Anthology
Published: 04 Mar 2021
A coffee seller waits all day for one of his customers to ask him how he is, until eventually he just tells the city itself...
A teenager is ordered off a bus at a checkpoint and told he must kiss a complete stranger if he wants the bus to be let through...
A woman pilgrimages to the Cave of the Prophets, to pray for rain for her tiny patch of land, knowing it will take more than water to save it...
Unlike most other Palestinian cities, Ramallah is a relatively new town, a de facto capital of the West Bank allowed to thrive after the Oslo Peace Accords, but just as quickly hemmed in and suffocated by the Occupation as the Accords have failed. Perched along the top of a mountainous ridge, it plays host to many contradictions: traditional Palestinian architecture jostling against aspirational developments and cultural initiatives, a thriving nightlife in one district, with much more conservative, religious attitudes in the next. Most striking however – as these stories show – is the quiet dignity, resilience and humour of its people; citizens who take their lives into their hands every time they travel from one place to the next, who continue to live through countless sieges, and yet still find the time, and resourcefulness, to create.
Translated by Basma Ghalayini, Alexander Hong, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Mohammed Ghalaieny, Raph Cormack, Adam Talib, Yasmine Seale, Andrew Leber, Emre Bennett & Raph Cohen.
WINNER of an English PEN Translates Award 2020
As featured in Cosmopolitan's '69 new books by Black and POC authors'.
One of Happy Mag's best books by Palestinian authors.
As featured in Asymptote Journal.
'Israel holds all the power in the West Bank, it should vaccinate everyone' - editor Maya Abu Al-Hayat writes for The Guardian
'The contrasting themes in this finely translated collection seem entirely apt for a city whose identity is an ongoing clash between creativity and banality, reality and delusion, prosperity and exploitation.' - The Times Literary Supplement
'Tender and humorous and full of breathtaking moments of wonder in everyday life.' - World Literature Today
'The Ramallah of this collection feels something like a big bus terminal, with people coming and going, confused about whose seat is whose, and where often travel is shut down entirely. And yet there are also moments of wicked humour, tender love, and elevating grace.' - Middle East Eye
'A comprehensive picture of the trauma Palestinians suffer under Israeli occupation – and an insight into the people's determination to resist.' - Morning Star
'A gentle, non-confronting set of stories that bring refreshing energy to the ongoing crisis for Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere in their diaspora.' - Counterpunch
'Each story catches the essence of not only Ramallah as a city but also its people, beautiful culture and language.' - Where There's Ink There's Paper
Listen to an interview with editor Maya Abu Al-Hayat about The Book of Ramallah on The Cameron Journal Podcast.
Listen to 'We Read Ramallah', an episode of the Bulaq Books podcast exploring The Book of Ramallah.
Read an extract from the introduction to the anthology at The Irish Times.
Read the introduction in full at Lithub.
Read 'Badia's Magic Water' by Maya Abu Al-Hayat for free at Morning Star.
Read 'Love in Ramallah' by Ibrahim Nasrallah for free at Bookanista.
Read 'Secrets Stroll the City's Streets' by Ahmed Jaber for free at The State of the Arts.
Read an exclusive guest blog written by the editor for The Comma Press Blog.
Watch the panel event from Liverpool Arab Arts Festival's on their Facebook page here.
Watch the panel event from Lancaster Litfest on their YouTube channel here.
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