PalFest 2012 Arrives in Gaza

Ahdaf Soueif on arriving at the Gaza side of the border. Photo by Mohamed Abu Samra.

As guests of the 2012 Palestine Festival for Literature (PalFest) waited — and waited — at the Rafah-Gaza crossing last night, the affiliated fest in Ramallah kicked off  with “Representing Lives Through Literature” at the Sakakini Cultural Center.

It “took ages to get through the border” yesterday, according to @PalFest. Judging by Twitter updates, it was more than eight hours before most of PalFest attendees got through to Gaza.

From @PalFest at around midnight:

@RanaGaza Hey – took ages to get through the border. Most of us are here, exhausted. @Alaa and @Manal will get through tomorrow we hope…

Welcome to Gaza!

Today’s events begin early:

10am: Workshops
All Universities (check with your Arabic and English departments)

4pm: Speeches, presentations and readings by PalFest authors
Golden Media Centre (opposite al Azhar University)

The character of the Fest — which has been criticized in the past as being too Anglophone, but which has also brought international authors to engage with Palestine — is clearly different this year. This year, it seems mostly focused on bringing great literature to Gaza and forging links between Egyptian and Palestinian authors.

As we wait for more news from the fest, you can watch an interview with PalFest’s founding chair, Ahdaf Soueifconducted by writer (and ArabLit contributor) Nora Lester Mourad :