PalFest 2011 Set for April

According to a post on PalFest’s Twitter account, “Our fundraising cycle for 2011 begins in earnest now.”

You can check out their balance sheets (and donate) at BigGive UK, an organization dedicated to transparency in charitable giving. Or, if you want to donate time or other resources, you can contact festival organizers through their website,

The organization, as of this past May, needed to raise £150,000 “without it killing me [Ahdaf Soueif]. Ideas welcome.”

I imagine that most anyone coming by ArabLit is already quite familiar with PalFest, which held its inaugural events in 2008, with an aim to “brings writers and artists from around the world to Palestinian audiences.” Also, when founder Ahdaf Soueif was at the American University in Cairo last year, she spoke about its origins:

The thing with Palfest is that you could see it progress from me going there and writing in a way that I hope represents Palestinian reality, in other words just by allowing Palestinian characters to come alive on the page, and then to me thinking, well I wish—I wish there were more people to see this or…and eventually coming up with the idea of actually taking people to go see it. To be able themselves to describe it and talk about it and so on.

So definitely the motivation of PalFest is to allow people to see each other.

Of course, PalFest has had its share of hassles from Israeli security (as when, in 2009, the security minister sent forces to shut it down), but the literary festival has seen Palestinian criticism as well, notably from writer Sousan Hammad, and then from others in response to Hammad’s 2010 article: A culture of exchange or elitism?

However, Hammad also acknowledged that the festival had made strides to bring more Palestinians to the events:

Unlike last year [2009], when only four of the 21 featured writers were Palestinians, this year – with Palestinian writer Adania Shibli hired as a curator – organisers say they have made an effort to increase the number of Palestinian writers featured in an attempt to “Palestinianise” the festival.

I have not yet seen any announcements about 2011 participants, but, in the meantime, you can watch this video from the last day of PalFest 2010 or start following PalFest’s new blog, just launched this month.

And, of course, you can donate. Here.