Friday Finds: Elias Khoury and ‘The Eloquence of Silence’

In October of last year, Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury joined Nora Parr at SOAS for the English-language launch of his Children of the Ghetto: My Name is Adam, tr. Humphrey Davies:

As Parr writes over at the Beyond Trauma Project, “The novel is about the politics of telling and hearing, seeing and blindness, truth and the possibility of finding it. It is about the impossibility of linear stories, the problems of history, the power of fiction, and the many many registers of silence.”

From Davies’ translation of the novel, as quoted at the beginning of Parr’s recent essay, “What is ‘trauma’ in Arabic?

“The issue isn’t just the crime of the expulsion of the Palestinians from their land, because a bigger crime followed—the crime of the imposition of silence on an entire people. I do not speak here of the silence that follows what in the language of psychiatrists is called ‘trauma,’ but of the silence imposed by the victor on the vanquished through the power of language”

In the podcast, Khoury talks about what he means by “balagat al-sumt,” or, in Davies’ English, “the eloquence of silence.”


The eloquence of silence represented in the work explains the many ways silence can persuade, can communicate something essential. Khoury’s book teaches its reader to hear what is not said, and learn volumes from it.

You can listen to the podcast on Soundcloud.

Another interview about the book with Khoury and a short excerpt on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction website.