The June 28 “Narrating Gaza” event was supposed to be a place where Ali Abukhattab and Samah al-Sheikh could talk about their writing and their work in the Gaza Strip developing new authors. Event-goers were also to hear about the Narrating Gaza online initiative.
According to Shubbak organizers, “The [Narrating Gaza] event is a platform to discuss contemporary literary practices of Gaza’s young creative generation. The authors will perform readings of their work.”
However, as The Guardian reports, the two writers — husband and wife — have been refused visas.
Shubbak Festival Chair Omar al-Qattan told The Guardian that two reasons were given for the visa refusal. First, that Abukhattab and al-Sheikh did not qualify as having business reasons and second that the authorities were not satisfied the couple would go back to Gaza.
“It is completely ridiculous,” al-Qattan told The Guardian. “I think they are very humiliated and very disappointed. It would have been the first time they had come to the UK and London.” He added: “It is very distressing. London is supposed to be an open city, a welcoming city, especially for artists, so this is very disappointing.”
As Literature Across Frontiers commented on Facebook: “Indeed, ‘London is supposed to be an open city, a welcoming city, especially for artists’… But it is becoming depressingly regular that writers and artists from the Middle East are denied visas for festivals and public events.”
The remaining literary Shubbak events:
June 27, 6:45 p.m. (Asia House)
Two novelists shortlisted for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction talk about their novels and the contemporary Arabic-lit scene.
June 28, 7 p.m. (Rich Mix)
If you didn’t see Libyan novelist Mohamed Mesrati at Hay, you can see him with Tunisian blogger Malek Sghiri, discussing the new book Writing Revolution.
July 1, 6:30 (Foyles Bookshop)
The Arab British Centre will be celebrating the English translation (by Elliott Colla) of Rabai al-Madhoun’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction-shortlisted novel, The Lady from Tel Aviv. The conversation with author Rabai al-Madhoun will be lead by British-Palestinian writer Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It.
July 4, 7 p.m. (TBC)
Features a tribute to Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih and a roundtable discussion “with leading figures of London’s literary community.”
Thanks to Sarah Irving for flagging this up.