Gazans writers keep writing under bombs

Monday, August 4, 2014

Despite Israel’s relentless aerial bombardments, shelling and ground attacks since July 7, Palestinian writers in Gaza have responded to the latest onslaught by doing what they know — writing.
Ra Page, director of Manchester-based Comma Press, which recently published a collection of short stories from writers in Gaza, says “all of the Book of Gaza contributors are writing away like crazy, whilst they have power”.

Eighty percent of households in Gaza have less than four hours of power a day, as Israel has badly damaged the Strip’s electricity infrastructure.

These writers include Nayrouz Qarmout, whose work is 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?

[Reprinted from Electronic Intifada. More of Ataallah’s writing can be found at her blog.]

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From GLW issue 1019