Sinan Antoon’s translation of Ibtisam Azem’s The Book of Disappearance is scheduled for release in June 2019:
The basic premise:
What if all the Palestinians in Israel simply disappeared one day? What would happen next? How would Israelis react? These unsettling questions are posed in Azem’s powerfully imaginative novel. Set in contemporary Tel Aviv forty eight hours after Israelis discover all their Palestinian neighbors have vanished, the story unfolds through alternating narrators, Alaa, a young Palestinian man who converses with his dead grandmother in the journal he left behind when he disappeared, and his Jewish neighbor, Ariel, a journalist struggling to understand the traumatic event.
An excerpt, “Jaffa Hasn’t Died,” is available at Jadaliyya. It opens by beautifully locating us in the city of the narrator’s experience and memory:
The houses on Rothschild Street, where I live, line up like a column of soldiers. Since I was born, Tel Aviv’s houses have been washed up in the city’s whiteness, or vice versa. There are things that are born all at once. A building is memory. Cities and places without old buildings have no memory. Maybe I say this because I am from an old city. Bedouins will see memory in other places. What matters is that I am the son of an ill-fated city. Jaffa is my ill-fated city. But what about cities that are born all at once? Are there such cities?