PalFest 2017 Opens May 13: Featuring Ma’n Abu Taleb, Nadeem Aslam, Jelani Cobb, Solmaz Sharif, More

The tenth annual Palestine Festival of Literature is set to open this Saturday with a wide slate of touring writers, from debut novelist Ma’n Abu Taleb (All the Battles) to internationally renowned novelist Nadeem Aslam, essayist Jelani Cobb, playwright Ismali Khalidi, and festival founder Ahdaf Soueif: 

The festival’s themes center around futurity: The opening night, set to be held in Ramallah’s Ottoman Court, is titled “The Future of the Citizen.” The festival then moves to Jerusalem for “The Future of Borders” and “The Future of History”; to Haifa for “The Future of Truth”; to Nablus for “The Future of Empire”; and back to Ramallah for “Reflections.”

The full program is available online, and the festival’s closing night is May 18.

Although some years, there has been a simultaneous festival in Gaza, this year’s festival is concentrated in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Haifa. In an email newsletter, PalFest organizers said: “PalFest is unable to get to Gaza because of Israel and Egypt’s ongoing siege of the Strip.”

You can also follow @PalFest, from this weekend, for details on the writers’ crossing into the West Bank from Jordan. In addition to events in four cities, the international group of writers will travel around historic Palestine.

If you’re in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Nablus, or Haifa: All PalFest events are free, welcoming, and open to the public. They are in a combination of Arabic and English, and simultaneous translation is provided.

Saturday, June 10: PalFest Comes to Balham 

If you’re closer to Balham than to Bethlehem, then on Saturday, June 10, Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, Sabrina Mahfouz and Ahdaf Soueif will be launching the PalFest literary anthology This is Not a Border, which brings together “pieces from and about the festival.”

You can find out more at