ArabLit Quarterly Spring 2024: Gaza! Gaza! Gaza! (PDF)

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In this special spring issue, ArabLit Quarterly and Gaza’s Majalla 28 come together to publish words and art from Gaza. In the face of immense death and loss, the brutal and inhumane destruction of cultural and academic infrastructure, and the utter callousness of those in power, co-editors Mohammed Zaqzooq and Mahmoud Al-Shaer have collected essays, poems, and life-and-death reflections by writers living in Gaza that speak to their lives between October 2023 and March 2024.

We also have work that expands our vision of Gaza, looking back as far as ancient Egypt.

In her essay "Naming Gaza," Salma Harland follows the area’s name from its earliest known use among the Ancient Egyptians through to the seventh century, countering narratives that want to call into question the region’s and its people’s long history. Ten centuries later, traveler ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi describes his 1693-94 trip to Khan Yunis, which he experienced as a place of “happiness and bliss: / a breeze at dawn / blowing all the way from / Jerusalem,” translated for this issue by Tom Abi Samra.

Continuing the long tradition of Palestinian poetry, we share poems of lament, praise, and contemplation by Samer Abu Hawwash (tr. Huda Fakhreddine), Olivia Elias (tr. into English by Kareem James Abu-Zeid and into Arabic by Salma Harland), Basman Aldirawi (tr. Tala Ladki), Ibrahim Nasrallah (tr. Huda Fakhreddine), Yara Omar (tr. Nashwa Nasreldin), the late Saleem al-Naffar (tr. Ruth Abou Rached and Salma Harland), and Yahya Ashour (tr. Khaled Rajeh).

Muin Bseiso’s “Fighting with Matchsticks and Chalk,” translated by Cara Piraino, comes from Bseiso’s 1971 Gaza Diaries and draws a portrait of Gaza in the immediate aftermath of 1948. It is joined by short and excerpted fiction, from the beginning of Atef Abu Saif’s 2019 novel, Walk Don’t Walk, a mystery that begins when an old man is put in a coma by a hit-and-run (translation by Alice Guthrie). In Heba Al-Agha’s “Sour Memory,” translated by Julia Choucair Vizoso, a woman changes as the details of her life change, and she must “arrange my migrating memory in my little drawers.”In Yousri Alghoul’s “Today My Sight is Sharp,” translated by Graham Liddell, a Gazan man dies while abroad, creating an international incident. In Hisham Bustani’s poetic fiction “Gaza,” translated by maia tabet, a man is faced with a decision about what to do in the face of ongoing destruction.

In addition to words, this issue also assembles visual art by Akram Al Deek, who reflects on his practice of assemblage art and not letting go of scavenged objects; a visual poem by Amina Kassem; an excerpt from Hooda Shawa and Michael Jabareen’s graphic novel Gilgamesh’s Skull, translated by Anam Zafar and Nadiyah F.A.; and postcards from Gaza, collected by Rayelle Niemann.

In an interview with Ursula Lindsey, writer and literary historian Atef Alshaer says, of writing amidst despair and hope: "You have this destruction and this genocide and this killing going on every day, and you have the Israeli leaders pronouncing with such venom and such intent that they’re going to do more and more of it. So the heart sinks really. And on the one hand you say: nobody’s listening, nothing is going to come of it. But I find this to be a fatalistic sentiment. I can’t myself give in totally, because there’s got to be a record, there’s got to be writing.“

So, this is our hope for this issue: for there to be a record, for there to be writing.

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ArabLit Quarterly Spring 2024: Gaza! Gaza! Gaza! (PDF)

7 ratings
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