Ibrahim Nasrallah will be speaking at Blackwell’s bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland at 6 pm on Tuesday March 12.
By Sarah Irving
Chairing the Nasrallah event will be Professor Marilyn Booth, translator of, amongst other novels, Elias Khoury’s As Though She Were Sleeping and Latifa al-Zayyat’s The Open Door, and an old friend of Nasrallah.
For those not yet familiar with Nasrallah’s work, he is both a poet and novelist, with over a dozen examples of each genre to his name. Born in 1954 in Wehdat refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, many of his works focus on Palestinian history and the situation for modern Palestinians, especially refugees. Of his works available in translation, Time of White Horses (translated by Nancy Roberts, published by American University of Cairo Press, 2012; the Arabic original was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009) is a vast but somehow still light and shimmering tale of one Palestinian village from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the Nakba of 1948.
Prairies of Fever (Interlink, 1993, translated by May Jayyusi and Jeremy Read) and Inside the Night (AUC Press 2007, translated by Bakr Abbas) both have more contemporary settings, using complex interweavings of time and place to evoke the displacement, fragmentation of identity and ambiguities of national and legal status which plague many Palestinians. A selection of Nasrallah’s poetry is available in translation by Omnia Amin and Rick London (Curbstone Press, 2009) and shows similar themes:
On the road a woman hands him morning coffee.
He drinks to sad eyes somewhere far away
and takes shelter on the horizon for two years,
then moves on leaving behind the warm coffee.
(From: His Shadow is Departing)
It will be worth overlooking the Blackwell’s affinity scheme with the Tory Party for this evening and setting foot inside. There are not many people I’d suggest doing that for, but Ibrahim Nasrallah is definitely one of them. The event is ticketed, but free – tickets from the shop’s front desk or 0131 622 8222.
Sarah Irving [http://www.sarahirving.co.uk] is author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, and has been a journalist and reviewer for over a decade. She is currently a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh and is dipping a tentative toe into the waters of Arabic-English translation.