This November, Palestinian writer and poet Ibrahim Nasrallah will be on his first solo UK tour. (Schedule below.)
Nasrallah will be speaking about his IPAF-shortlisted Time of White Horses, trans. Nancy Roberts, and reading from his most recent collection of poems, On the Thread of Light.
When I saw Nasrallah at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) this past March, he was a charming speaker. Among other things, he said (translation approximate):
I used to say that this character was imaginary, whereas this character is real. … But then a reader said to me, “She is a real character. Why are you telling me that she’s imaginary?” And I think that this is true. Because, generally, I write imaginary characters. This is the first time that I’ve written with historical characters, not imaginary characters. And hence, when I do so, the reader believes this will turn into a real character. …. Sometimes … the real is what the reader believers. Whether this character is real, whether it came from that era, or whether it was imaginary. So perhaps I couldn’t answer your question which one was real and which one was imaginary. If the reader…will think this one is real and this one is imaginary, that will spoil the entertainment of the reading.
He added later, in response to a question from the audience:
Every single character comes from reality.
He also spoke, at ADIBF, about wanting to document life in Palestine pre-1948, and how there has been a general absence of such work. But how could he write about this time when it hadn’t been done by Ghassan Kanafani, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Emile Habibi—he, who was born six years after the nakba? Well, in any case, he did.
Mosaic Rooms, Tuesday, Nov 13, 7 p.m.
Manchester University, Wednesday, Nov 14, 4.30-6.00, Samuel Alexander Building, Room A101
More on Nasrallah:
The Guardian: Writing of Jordan, Dreaming of Palestine
Al Akhbar: All Roads Lead Back to Palestine
Thanks to Nora Parr for alerting me.