This year’s Palestine Festival of Literature will split into two separate groups. The larger group will go to Ramallah, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nablus, and Birzeit while the smaller group — which includes writers Ali Abunimah, Nora Younis, Susan Abulhawa, and Lina Attalah — will go to Gaza:
Lina Attalah, the editor-in-chief and force behind the recently shuttered Egypt Independent*, said she chose to participate in PalFest 2013 for many reasons. “For one, it is an act of commitment to the Palestinian cause for me.” Also, she said, “PalFest reinvigorates the space of possibilities.”
Attalah added that she’s drawn to borders, particularly the border with Gaza, which has been rendered near-inaccessible for so long. This border space as thus become an “imagined” space, and, “The moment when imagination meets reality by actually being able to be in Gaza,” and Attalah can “encounter it as not just an inert space, but a social space, I think, is priceless.”
The Gaza participants, she said, will mostly be meeting with local intellectuals, writers, and activists. They will give talks — Attalah’s will focus on links between Egypt’s revolution and Palestine — and author-participants also will host writing workshops. (More on the other Gaza workshops here.)
As to her workshop:
I am thinking for the workshop in two areas. I want us to collectively and individually reflect in writing about the notion of change, how it has been constructed and consumed. I would like to bridge the gap between participants’ consumption of media or literary production around the notion of change and their own reflection of it; how would they have expressed actual and imagined change if they were the producers. Of course change is meant in its multilayered forms: change on a national level, change on a personal level and the intersections between the two. I am also interested in another question related to emerging new forms of Arab identities that are forged from below, by people, particularly in the wake of Arab revolutions. I am interested in how thought production in social media spaces is contributing to these emergent identities (as opposed to the state-engineered 60s style monolithic Arab identity). I am hoping to also try and work with that at the workshop.
Beyond that, Attalah said she’s just looking forward to meeting people, particularly fellow journalists. “I am interested in the latter group because most media production out of Gaza is highly tied to crisis and I am hoping to find ways to narrate the everyday of Gaza beyond the moments of crisis.”
*Yes, full disclosure, this means she was my boss.