On Ghassan Kanafani’s 80th Birthday, ‘A Night Without a Blanket’

The iconic and celebrated Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani was born on this day in 1936:

iconsquare31F7419C-B386-B172-5A40501B3F9A9BF0And this week, A Night Without A Blanket opens in NYC, as Theater for the New City presents two plays, “The Slope” and “A Present for the Holidays,” based on Kanafani short stories.

A Night Without a Blanket is a solo dramatization performed by Margo Lee Sherman and directed by Juanita Lara. It’s opened April 7 and is set to run through April 24. Information about tickets and showtimes can be found on the theatre’s website.

From the site:

The Slope and A Present for the Holiday are two stories from his book ‘Palestine’s Children’ and capture a very real account of the lives of the Palestinian people as told through the voices of Palestinian children. In The Slope, a child tells the story of his father, a shoe repairman, who works day and night to earn enough money to send his children to school. In A Present for the Holiday, a journalist’s sleep is disturbed by a phone call from a man who proposes delivering presents to the children living in a refugee camp in Jordan. He plans for an elaborate event with high society figures and media.

“We haven’t cut much. The language is so fantastic,” Sherman told Broadway World.

Sherman told BW that she first discovered Kanafani’s work after the Gaza war of 2008-2009, when she read “Letter from Gaza.”

“I figured it had been written two weeks earlier. I cried at the end,” Sherman told BW. “Then I discovered it had been written in 1956 by a 20-year-old writer with a lot of compassion”.

Kanafani was born in Akka but began his life in exile in 1948. His story “The Stolen Shirt” won the Kuwait Literary Prize in 1958, when Kanafani was just twenty-two. His Men in the Sun, one of his most popular and acclaimed works, was originally published in 1956, followed by All That’s Left to You, Return to Haifa, and a number of other important works, including four collections of short stories.  

When Kanafani was assassinated in Beirut on July 8, 1972, he was just 36.


“The Stolen Shirt,” trans. Michael Fares

Jaffa: Land of Oranges,” trans. Mona Anis and Hala Halim

Excerpts from Return to Haifa,  trans. Barbara Harlow and Karen E. Riley

Letter from Gaza,” translator not listed.

Books in translation

Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Storiestranslated by Kilpatrick

Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa & Other Stories, translated by Harlow and Riley

All That’s Left to You, translated by May Jayyusi and Jeremy Reed

About Kanafani:

“Ghassan Kanafani: The Symbol of the Palestinian Tragedy,” by Rasem al-Madhoon, trans. Khader

“Remembering Ghassan Kanafani,” by Elias Khoury, trans. Maia Tabet

Returning to Haifa,” Arab Arts Blog