Finished January 13
Touch by Adania Shibli, translated by Paula Haydar
This novella is a very unusual book. The main character is only identified as "the girl" and all the other characters have equally general descriptors. As one slowly gathers, the girl is the ninth and youngest daughter of a Palestinian family. Her story ranges from everyday occurrences, such as interacting with her siblings and spending time with her family and the neighbour she begins a relationship with, to experiences more specific to her situation such as watching her family mourn her brother and participating in a funeral procession. She seems both part of things and an observer. In one scene, she is ostracized by her sisters, left on her own while the other sisters spend time with their mourning mother. She craves silence, but also wants to know and understand what is going on, but only seems to find out pieces of things, like overhearing family members discussing the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
The author has won awards for her writing, and the way she uses language her shows why. The translator also is skilled to be able to convey such a story to us.
Moving and seemingly simple, this story begs to be reread as soon as you finish it.