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Palestine +100

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Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba? How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isola Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba? How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isolation, to shape the country and its people? Will a lasting peace finally have been reached, or will future technology only amplify the suffering and mistreatment of Palestinians? Covering a range of approaches – from SF noir, to nightmarish dystopia, to high-tech farce – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to reimagine the Palestinian experience today. Along the way, we encounter drone swarms, digital uprisings, time-bending VR, peace treaties that span parallel universes, and even a Palestinian superhero, in probably the first anthology of science fiction from Palestine ever. Translated from the Arabic by Raph Cormack, Mohamed Ghalaieny, Andrew Leber, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Yasmine Seale and Jonathan Wright. WINNER of a PEN Translates Award 2018


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Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba? How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isola Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba? How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isolation, to shape the country and its people? Will a lasting peace finally have been reached, or will future technology only amplify the suffering and mistreatment of Palestinians? Covering a range of approaches – from SF noir, to nightmarish dystopia, to high-tech farce – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to reimagine the Palestinian experience today. Along the way, we encounter drone swarms, digital uprisings, time-bending VR, peace treaties that span parallel universes, and even a Palestinian superhero, in probably the first anthology of science fiction from Palestine ever. Translated from the Arabic by Raph Cormack, Mohamed Ghalaieny, Andrew Leber, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Yasmine Seale and Jonathan Wright. WINNER of a PEN Translates Award 2018

30 review for Palestine +100

  1. 4 out of 5

    Inderjit Sanghera

    Palestine re-imagined a century after the Nakba, which marked the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in what is now Israel; Palestine re-imagined via the prism of sci-fi fiction, the fantastical tropes of sci-fi fiction serve to heighten the horror of the stories they are depicting, in which the Palestinian characters are systematically dehumanised beneath the behemoth of the Israeli state, in the many iterations in which it is depicted in the collection of stori Palestine re-imagined a century after the Nakba, which marked the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in what is now Israel; Palestine re-imagined via the prism of sci-fi fiction, the fantastical tropes of sci-fi fiction serve to heighten the horror of the stories they are depicting, in which the Palestinian characters are systematically dehumanised beneath the behemoth of the Israeli state, in the many iterations in which it is depicted in the collection of stories.  Particular highlights include 'Sleep it off, Dr. Schott', which depicts the burgeoning romance between two hybrid human scientists, one Israeli and one Palestinian beneath a sea of Rachel Weisz comparisons and conversations about the rights and wrongs of the conflict. The way in which the story coalesces the artificial emotions which the two characters are implanted, with the real emotions both characters feel as they explore their individual pasts and the present burgeoning of their relationship exemplifies the artificial constructs which conflict creates around human emotions. Another highlight is 'Digital Nation' in which artificial intelligence supplants its human masters and creates a Palestinian state which is able to achieve its aim of independence, or of 'Application 39' in which a pair of bumbling pranksters manage to succeed in an application for Palestine to host the Olympics, only for the story to end if farce and tragedy as a peaceful march is turned into a massacre by over-zealous robots, designed to view Palestinians as enemies. As with magical realism, the horrors depicted beneath all of this fantasy are the only ways in which to depict the surrealism of a world enveloped by belligerence and hatred, a world in which, as with the story 'Vengeance' the desire for revenge only serves to trap people in a never-ending cycle of violence from which there is no escape. 

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joey Ayoub

    The Future Palestinian Present This piece was initially published on Mangal Media on August 25th, 2019. https://joeyayoub.com/2019/09/03/the-... There is a concept coined by the Lebanese writer Walid Sadek which denotes a present endlessly postponed by the lack of pasts and futures. He calls it ‘the protracted now’. Since discovering it in his The Ruin to Come, Essays from a Protracted War, I have been carrying this concept around with me, like an overweight suitcase that I’d rather check in at the nearest counter t The Future Palestinian Present This piece was initially published on Mangal Media on August 25th, 2019. https://joeyayoub.com/2019/09/03/the-... There is a concept coined by the Lebanese writer Walid Sadek which denotes a present endlessly postponed by the lack of pasts and futures. He calls it ‘the protracted now’. Since discovering it in his The Ruin to Come, Essays from a Protracted War, I have been carrying this concept around with me, like an overweight suitcase that I’d rather check in at the nearest counter than shove it in the overhead compartment as I fly over fictional borders that harm real people. During the flight, it is checked in and, in those few hours, past and future exist in perfectly linear forms as places I leave from and places I go to. This, of course, does not last. The plane lands, the border acknowledges me with its usual disdain and I pick up my suitcase. And, just like that, the protracted now is back. Reading the science fiction anthology Palestine+100, edited by Basma Ghalayini and written by 12 Palestinian writers, I couldn’t help but feel that the writers were also carrying an overweight suitcase with them. Theirs is a different protracted now, however, brought about not by a lack of a coherent past (as might be argued in the Lebanese case) but, on the contrary, from the past’s overwhelming presence. As Ghalayini explained in her introductory words, this relationship with time is why science fiction is not a common genre among Palestinian writers: “The cruel present (and the traumatic past) have too firm a grip on Palestinian writers’ imaginations for fanciful ventures into possible futures.” This makes Palestine+100 all the more remarkable. Set in 2048, 100 years after the Nakba (Arabic for Catastrophe), the mass expulsion of 700,000 Palestinian Arabs (around 80% of the population) by Zionist forces during the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, the contributors of Palestine+100 have imagined different scenarios for what that year might look like. The uniqueness of their different visions speaks to both their skills as established writers and to the inherently uncertain nature of a Palestinian future. We start the book with Song of the Birds by Saleem Haddad and are immediately grounded in reality as the story is written in memory of Mohanned Younis, a 22-year old Palestinian writer from Gaza who asphyxiated himself in 2017. In Song of the Birds, set one year after Ziad, Aya’s brother, hanged himself, we see a family broken by suicide. Aya soon finds herself dreaming of Ziad, and progressively realises that her dreams aren’t just dreams. We experience Aya’s realisations as her dreams are revealed to be at least partly based in reality: In one dream, she sees children lying lifeless on the beach with a punctured football nearby, a likely reference to two events during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza. This, in turn, makes Ziad’s appearances in Aya’s dreams all the more pertinent, as he reveals the nature of the world around her. Song of the Birds could be categorized as ‘postwar’ science fiction since ‘the conflict’, by all appearances, has ended. But it is the very nature of some of these stories that the very category of ‘postwar’ is questioned. Is the conflict over? What does it mean? What happened to the Palestinians? What’s Israel? These are questions that are not always answered in Palestine+100. At the same time, they are not meant to be answered. Rather, the writers can be seen as experimenting with a reality-defying impossibility, namely a Palestinian future. These past few years seem to have increasingly consolidated the Israeli drive to erase the Palestinian past and present. If the state succeeds, what of the Palestinian future? One story offers a possible answer: The Association by Samir El-Youssef (tr. Ralph Cormack). Here, we see memory turned into a weapon in the context of a 68-year-old historian’s murder. Set 20 years after the so-called 2028 Agreement ended the Eighty Year War, a journalist named Zaid decides to investigate the murder after reading about a piece of paper lying next to his body with a small circle drawn on it. As he investigates, he finds the circle a few more times and encounters some people dissatisfied with the Agreement. The fundamental logic underpinning the Agreement is that forgetting is better than remembering. The phrase “Don’t talk about what happened before” is repeated by everyone in Israel/Palestine, although it should be noted that neither ‘Israel’ nor ‘Palestine’ is mentioned in this story. Only cities (Jerusalem, Gaza), streets (Shohada Street) and bars (Bar Mokhtar) are mentioned by name. This speaks to the local/universal (so-called glocalization) quality of Palestinian literature, and perhaps good literature more broadly. The ‘eighty years war’ – 1948 to 2028 – reminds me of ‘the events’, the term used to describe the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1990, and the refusal to talk about ‘what happened before’ reminds me of the ‘no victor, no vanquished’ formula imposed on Lebanon’s population after the war. If no one won, who lost? If no one lost, who won? If no one lost and no one won, what was/were the war(s) about? 28 years after the end of the Lebanese civil war, these questions are still strongly discouraged. In The Association, events that happened between 1948 and 2028 in Israel/Palestine can’t be discussed, and a historian finds himself murdered for that reason: he is among the few who dared to explore what happened before 2028. In this world, the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza lasted 20 years – 2007 to 2027 – so, presumably, the lifting of the blockade, and whatever replaced it, was part of the 2028 Agreement. The truth of the blockade is proclaimed by a group, Jidar (which means ‘wall’), described as among “dozens of different extremist groups”. Another group, Jozoor (‘roots’) is concerned with the “history of land reclamations”, a reference to the on-going (as of 2019) destruction of Palestinian houses by Israeli occupation forces. Another group, Mathaf (‘museum’), focused on preserving the memory of the occupation. Another group still, Harb (‘war’), emphasized the “mysterious” operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge, the respective Israeli names to the 2008–09 and 2014 wars. That they are described as extremists speaks to the militarization of history that the Israeli government is so dependent on today. More importantly, they describe themselves as opponents to the Agreement in the name of memory. Why, they ask, should peace come at the cost of losing the right to remember? These groups’ details are lacking, pushing the reader to wonder what kind of peace is afraid of facts. More importantly, just as novelists use historical events to shine a light on the present, the authors of Palestine+100 explore possible futures for the same reason. If we accept the protracted now thesis, this makes a lot of sense. Science fiction here expands the boundaries of what is imaginable, thus unshackling Palestinian writers from the choice between security and peace. If what Ghalayini says is true, namely that Palestinian authors (she listed Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Ghassan Kanafani) have “all felt obligated” to remember the Nakba because “they have a cultural duty to remember it”, doesn’t that present an obstacle to the creativity of writers? Ghalayini argues that the past “is everything to a Palestinian writer; it is the only thing that makes their current existence and their identity meaningful.” But after reading Palestine+100, I can only conclude that some of the writers seem to have different answers. Ziad, the main character in Saleem Haddad’s The Song of Birds appears to challenge that idea. Ziad tells his sister Aya that we, the Arabs, “are trapped in the rose-tinted memories of our ancestors” and that our generation in particular ‘is imprisoned by our parents’ nostalgia”. Here, Palestinians’ dependence on collective memory makes them vulnerable, and that vulnerability has been harnessed by the state of Israel to create a simulation of a liberated Palestine. Most notably, people cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not. To write, to remember, because one feels a duty to do so can be exhausting, and there’s nothing wrong with recognizing that the occupied, the exiled and those in-between can also fail. But even in failure, a way out is possible. Ziad tells Aya to pay attention to the song of the birds as their loops can expose the simulation. It is notable that alternative realities feature so prominently in this collection. In Majd Kayyal’s N (tr. Thoraya El-Rayes), Israel and Palestine occupy the same geographic space. However, it is not a One-State Solution that Kayyal portrays, but a world where two alternative realities co-exist. One can even travel between the Israeli world and the Palestinian world, but only if one was born after the Agreement. As in The Association and The Song of Birds, the Israelis and Palestinians in N live in a post-war world. We don’t know when the Agreement was passed in N, but we do know one of its conditions: “Both parties shall refrain from commemorating the hostilities that occurred between them, or any part thereof.” Here, too, the past is rendered taboo. From a Palestinian perspective, this is an Israeli attitude best exemplified through the widespread denial of the Nakba among Israelis. Speaking of Israelis, their relative absence in most stories will, I suppose, be the most surprising aspect of this book to many readers. Palestinian fiction regularly features Israelis and, contrary to popular belief, often does so with great nuance. Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa, first published in 1970, is arguably the most famous one: Mariam, the Israeli woman living in Said and Safeyya’s former house is portrayed as a complex person, ashamed of how Palestinians were treated. This was, and perhaps still is, the best-kept open secret of Palestinian literature: The “Other”, the Israeli, is not unknown. To borrow from James Baldwin, the Israelis never had to look at Palestinians, but Palestinians have always had to look at Israelis. But being aware that individual Israelis inhabit complexity does not change the fact that the state of Israel has been in the business of erasing Palestinian history since 1948. To this day, the Israeli Defence Ministry goes through Israel’s national archives to remove historic documents related to the Nakba, even violating the country’s own laws to do so. The goal is fairly straightforward: by removing archival evidence, historians’ footnotes become claims that can be contested by the state, both in the realm of politics and of law. Yehiel Horev, head of the Defense Ministry’s security department from 1986 to 2007, said so himself: “When the state imposes confidentiality, the published work is weakened because he doesn’t have the document.” Thus, the Israeli state continues its war on the Palestinian past through censorship and on the Palestinian present through violence. This gives science fiction a creative potential that has yet to be truly explored: that of creating a new imaginary. The Palestinian future is the only temporal realm that the Israeli state cannot shoot, bomb, or erase. Whether or not this imaginary ends up stuck in the protracted now, it is too soon to tell. But by creating these new imaginaries, the writers allow readers to temporarily escape the protracted now. In those imagined moments, political hope is possible as linear time is restored. The past can be past without dominating the present, and the present can be acted upon to create a better future. The question remains, however, whether that overweight suitcase that we are forced to collect upon arrival can ever be discarded. Are new imaginaries enough to unshackle Palestinian politics from the Israeli-imposed protracted now? I suspect not, for new Israeli imaginaries would also be required.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Subtlety

    An anthology of Palestinian sci-fi, set in 2048: close enough to project current Palestinian fantasies and fears onto, far enough to accommodate technological and political divergence. I found the perspectives in it interesting, but I'm only reviewing this collection on the quality and creativity of the stories. Don't be put off by the uninspired first story, which reads like overwrought dystopian YA. The second story, "Sleep It Off, Dr Schott", immediately recovers in presenting a cy An anthology of Palestinian sci-fi, set in 2048: close enough to project current Palestinian fantasies and fears onto, far enough to accommodate technological and political divergence. I found the perspectives in it interesting, but I'm only reviewing this collection on the quality and creativity of the stories. Don't be put off by the uninspired first story, which reads like overwrought dystopian YA. The second story, "Sleep It Off, Dr Schott", immediately recovers in presenting a cynic's fantasy of Palestinian prosperity, an areligious scientific community in independent Gaza with a surveillance apparatus to ensure that even exclaimed profanity is totally secular. I liked the third story even more: "N" is beautifully written and translated, suggesting the isolation of parallel Israel and Palestine through conversations presented jarringly with only one side of the dialog. "The Key" introduces with distaste a common Israeli belief that, if Palestinians in Israel and the territories could be made a bit more prosperous and integrated into the economy, they would lose the political will to mount internal threats to current power structures. The naively utopian "Digital Nation" plays straight a parallel belief among Palestinians that, if they could only do enough damage to the Israeli economy, its spoiled citizens would eagerly submit to full Palestinian rule to retain their material wealth. The collection is uneven, as expected of any anthology. Most of the worst stories are tedious in their premise: "what if same but more technology". Most of the best stories, like "Sleep It Off" and "Final Warning", find a bitter comedy in their cynicism, while others like "N" and "Curse of The Mud Ball Kid" are mournfully poetic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deaddad

    12 writers were asked to imagine Palestine 100 years on from the Nabka, when over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were forced to flee during the Palestinian War in 1948. This was half of the population at the time. The effects of this event still resonate and occupy the minds and lives of Palestinians in the occupied territories and dispersed around the globe. The editor Basma Ghalayini in her introduction gives this historical background but also explains why science fiction is not a natur 12 writers were asked to imagine Palestine 100 years on from the Nabka, when over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were forced to flee during the Palestinian War in 1948. This was half of the population at the time. The effects of this event still resonate and occupy the minds and lives of Palestinians in the occupied territories and dispersed around the globe. The editor Basma Ghalayini in her introduction gives this historical background but also explains why science fiction is not a natural genre for writers: “it is a luxury, to which Palestinians haven’t felt they can afford to escape”. So the writers in this collection are less steeped in sci-fi but rise to the challenge of imagining the near future of Palestine in 2048. Occasionally there is too much exposition in some stories but I would recommend reading this less for the short fiction and more for an insight into being a member of a stateless nation and of a nation in permanent conflict. Injustice, hatred and the consequences of walls, zones, restrictions and identity feature strongly. This collection feels less about sci-fi freeing writers from the confines of the present, and more about how future-gazing is drawn continually back to the past and its continuing influence. Highlights for me: The Key, told from an Israeli point of view, is steeped in paranoia which technological advances cannot diminish. Digital Nation has cyber-hackers turning Hebrew into Arabic and Application 39 posits what would happen if Gaza City was to stage the Olympics. Yet even where satire is employed the feeling of injustice and intractable conflict is ever present. Bleak and informative.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hagay Hacohen

    An uneven collection, at times crude and at others - brilliant A great selection of short stories, some brilliant, others not so much, that will do a lot to humanize Palestinian view-points of read by Israelis. The footnotes are extremely one sided, presenting no trace of Arab violence against Jews, and some stories are crude in presenting fictional IDF soldiers murdering Palestinians using drones (2030) and shutting off their breathing masks (vengeance). However, seeing as real, not fictional, An uneven collection, at times crude and at others - brilliant A great selection of short stories, some brilliant, others not so much, that will do a lot to humanize Palestinian view-points of read by Israelis. The footnotes are extremely one sided, presenting no trace of Arab violence against Jews, and some stories are crude in presenting fictional IDF soldiers murdering Palestinians using drones (2030) and shutting off their breathing masks (vengeance). However, seeing as real, not fictional, violence does take place in the region it is perhaps too much to expect more. Some stories, such as N or 'sleep it off Dr. Schott' do attempt to portray Israelis and N even had a Palestinian ask the powerful question 'What should we have done? Open a mental health clinic for Holocaust survivors?' The last story in the collection, 'The Curse of the Mud Ball Kid' is nothing less than brilliant. Making the entire collection, weak stories included, completely worth it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bassam Kassouma

    Short stories by Palestinian writers to imagine Palestine a hundred years from the Nakba (1984), which resulted in the expulsion of Palestinians from their country. The exodus was a result of the Palestine - "Israeli" war, also referred to Nakba. The stories are very good, however, some are better than the others. I specifically liked "The Key" and "Application 39". I found other stories, however, a way to fill in the book. I don't recommend this book if you are trying to g Short stories by Palestinian writers to imagine Palestine a hundred years from the Nakba (1984), which resulted in the expulsion of Palestinians from their country. The exodus was a result of the Palestine - "Israeli" war, also referred to Nakba. The stories are very good, however, some are better than the others. I specifically liked "The Key" and "Application 39". I found other stories, however, a way to fill in the book. I don't recommend this book if you are trying to get historical fact about the conflict - this is a science fiction book. Also, given its name, it is expected that this is providing a Palestinian perspective on the conflict.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    From the same series as "Iraq +100", this time speculative science fiction stories from Palestinian writers, set in the near future of 2048, 100 years after the Nakba. A dozen short stories. Varied, imaginative, and often very dark. A fascinating premise for a book, and a formidable collection of stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vickie Mansour-hasan

    The first story hooked me. An amazing collection of speculative fiction. Riveting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Angelique

    Oh god, PALESTINE is what I kept thinking. Man o man, is it an insight into the collective psyche of a people. All the stories had a common thread of loss and history, even though they were stories set in the future. I would re-read. I enjoyed it, but found it hard to not have my heart break in a million pieces thinking of what these people have gone through. Also, the article from the Guardian gave more insight and I can't stop thinking about it. Oh god, PALESTINE is what I kept thinking. Man o man, is it an insight into the collective psyche of a people. All the stories had a common thread of loss and history, even though they were stories set in the future. I would re-read. I enjoyed it, but found it hard to not have my heart break in a million pieces thinking of what these people have gone through. Also, the article from the Guardian gave more insight and I can't stop thinking about it. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kamil Kopacewicz

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  12. 4 out of 5

    Omar

  13. 4 out of 5

    Flor

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elias Jahshan

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Angelique

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonida Tafilaku

  17. 5 out of 5

    DR.AmiraSalah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Simon Woodrup

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fatima

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  21. 4 out of 5

    Asim Qureshi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Made

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bettina

  25. 5 out of 5

    M.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana Altoaimi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emil Kort

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

  29. 5 out of 5

    fieldtoolarge

  30. 5 out of 5

    Imron

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