The Book of Gaza: Life and literature on the Strip

21 May 2015 - 7.30PM

The city of Gaza may feature constantly in the news, but what do really we know of life there, beyond the headlines and the politics? Two contributors from a recent anthology of short stories offer insights into everyday life and its everyday struggles. The Book of Gaza offers a cross section of the three generations of authors to have emerged in the city since 1967, and together the stories present a literary map of the city. Published just before the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge, the contributors have since lived through yet another period of intense and deadly conflict. 

In a change to the original event details advertised, tonight's event will feature recorded readings of the work of Mona Abu Sharekh and Talal Abu Shawish (from the Book of Gaza), as well as a live reading by Rawan Yaghi, of her contribution to Gaza Writes Back! And a discussion with her, Gazan activist Mohammed Ghalayini, and Cinna editor Ra Page.

About tonight's guests:
Rawan Yaghi is currently in her second year at Oxford University,  reading Modern Languages and Linguistics. She's  also a graduate of the Islamic University of Gaza. She is a contributor to the book Gaza Writes Back, which was a collection of short stories published in response to Operation Cast Lead the Israel's term for its assault on Gaza from 2008-9. She's reading her short piece 'From Beneath'.

Mohamed Ghalayini is a Gaza-born activist and one of the organisers of Manchester's 'Kedem' protest (a boycott and protest against an Israeli-owned Dead Sea beauty products shop on King Street in Manchester, held in response to Operation Protective Edge last summer). Unlike other protests around the UK, this one was widely demonised as a result of organised Zionist lobbying of the local press, council and police. The Manchester Evening News called the peaceful protesters 'extremists'; councilors like Pat Karney accused them of aggressive scare tactics, and the police made numerous arrests through the 51 day protests. Mohammed has previously worked for charities, including Toxic Remnants of War; his mother Mona Qasim el Farraj, runs the Gaza branch of MECA (Middle East Chidrens' Association). He lost 9 cousins during the war.

Readings will be presented of the following two writers' work:

Talal Abu Shawish was born in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in 1967, and is currently Assistant Director of the Boys Preparatory School for Refugees in Gaza. He has published three short story collections – The Rest are Not For Sale, The Assassination of a Painting (2010) and Goodbye, Dear Prophets (2011) – and three novels: We Deserve a Better Death (2012), Middle Eastern Nightmares (2013), and Seasons of Love and Blood (2014). His work has won three awards (the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ Story Competition in 1996 and 1997, and the Italian Sea That Connects Award, 1998). Shawish was President of the Association of New Prospects for Community Development, 2007-2011, and is a member of the Palestinian Writers Union.

Mona Abu Sharekh’s family was originally from Ashkelon (her father being expelled from his land in 1948). She studied English Literature at Islamic University of Gaza from 2001 to 2005, then took a Masters degree in Business Administration at the same university. Her first collection of short stories, What the Madman Said was published in 2008 by the Palestinian Writers Union, and deals with life in Gaza shortly after the second intifada (2006-2007). She has recently completed her second collection, about Palestinian women, When I Cut Off the Head of Gaza, and she is currently working on a novel, about children abandoned for the shame of being born out of wedlock. She has worked as project manager for a number of Palestinian NGOs, and her writing frequently draws on her experiences of social work.

Join us at Writing on the Wall Festival for readings from The Book of Gaza, and discussion about life and literature on the Strip. 

7.30pm. The Bluecoat, School Lane, L1 3BX

TICKETS HERE: £4/£2. The Bluecoat, 0151 702 5324