‘We the Aliens,’ ‘Nakba + 100,’ and Palestinian Science Fictions

To coincide with Palestinian artist Larissa Sensor’s exhibition at Bluecoat, “In the Future, They Ate from the Finest Porcelain,” Comma Press asks three Palestinian fiction writers: What might a new wave Palestinian science fiction look like?

Promotional image from Sansour’s new show.

The event — set for June 14 — comes just a month before Mo’min Swaitat’s play “We the Aliens” will be developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab.

Swaitat’s “We the Aliens,” directed by Wissam Arbache, is “an experimental solo show inspired both by an ancient Arab storytelling starting with Ibn Tufail’s novel from the 11th century, and by Palestinian author Emile Habibi’s 1974 science fiction novel about an alien encounter” — that is, Said the Pessoptimist. 

The promotional blurb continues: “As both a Bedouin and a Palestinian refugee from 1948, Swaitat blends family history and folklore with his own recollections of growing up in a world turned upside down, at a crossroads between the past, present and future.”

At the June 14 event, part of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, Talal Abu Shawish and Rawan Yaghi will both be reading from, and discussing new stories commissioned for Comma Press’s forthcoming anthology Nakba + 100, which will — in the style of its popular Iraq + 100 anthology, feature “ten stories all set in the year 2048, a century after the ‘catastrophe’ now known as the ‘Nakba’.”

The third Palestinian writer, International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novelist Rabai al Madhoun, will talk about how his IPAF-winning novel, Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba, uses the future as an element.