Gaza’s writers keep writing under the bombs

Mohammad Othman APA images

Despite Israel’s relentless aerial bombardments, shelling and ground attacks for nearly two weeks, Palestinian writers in Gaza have responded to the latest onslaught by doing what they know – writing.

According to an email from Ra Page, director of Manchester-based Comma Press, which recently published a collection of short stories from writers in Gaza, “all of the Book of Gaza contributors are writing away like crazy, whilst they have power.” (Eighty percent of households in Gaza currently have only up to four hours of power per day as Israel has badly damaged the Strip’s electricity infrastructure.)

These writers include Nayrouz Qarmout, whose work is currently being translated for publication, and Najlaa Ataallah. Ataallah has built upon her existing Arabic-language writing — which includes two novels and a short story collection — with English posts to her blog, in the hope of sharing her experiences of the bombing and invasion with a wider audience.

Her response to the ninth day of the current attack includes this passage:

Did I die?

No doubt, this is all your hallucination of what it’s like to be dead. I’m still thinking of being not dead. Yes, I kicked him out. I triumphed upon him. He did not hug me nor took me with him to the sky.

I’m still here. I’m on this ground.

You are delirious. Your temperature skyrocketed. Your body trembles uncontrollably. Your mother recites the verses from the Quran over your head. The bed shakes.

“What day is it today?”, you asked your mother.

She lowers her head, trying to answer you. It looks like she too has forgotten the day and the date.

But that’s not what you are asking for…

You wanted to know which day of the aggression is this day. Did you pass the ninth day without death harvesting you, or are you still inside this ninth day cycle?

More of Ataallah’s writing can be found on her blog.

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Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.