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Winner of the A. M. Qattan Young Writer–Palestine Award

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Touch

by Adania Shibli

translated by Paula Haydar

“The opening of her first novel, Masaas (Touch)… introduces a fragile little girl, standing alone in her landscape, in the shadow of an old, rusty water tank. She touches one of the supporting legs of the tank, and tiny, cold stains of rust stick to her palm. She stretches her hand out of the shade to warm it up in the sun, and her hand becomes sprinkled with shiny dots of shimmering gold. This is, to my mind, what Adania Shibli does with her amazingly and beguilingly simple language: making the rusty stains of reality disappear, and then making them reappear in writing as stains of gold.”
—Anton Shammas, introducing Shibli,
Words Without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers

 

Touch centers on a girl, the youngest of nine sisters in a Palestinian family. In the singular world of this novella, this young woman’s everyday experiences—watching a funeral procession, fighting with her siblings, learning to read, perhaps falling in love—resonate until they have become as weighty as any national tragedy. The smallest sensations compel, the events of history only lurk at the edges—the question of Palestine, the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. In a language that feels at once natural and alienated, Shibli breaks with the traditions of modern Arabic fiction, creating a work that has been and will continue to be hailed across literatures. Here every ordinary word, ordinary action is a small stone dropped into water: of inevitable consequence. We find ourselves mesmerized one quiet ripple at a time.
ISBN 9781566568074 • paperback • $13 • April 2010

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excerpt

Also by Shibli:

We are All Equally Far from Love