Touch

Publishing House: Clockroot Books

Publication Year: 2013

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 72

Adania Shibli‘s “Touch,” recognized as a nominee for the prestigious Best Translated Book Award (BTBA) for Fiction Longlist in 2011, is a novella that eloquently narrates the life of the youngest among nine sisters in a Palestinian family. Celebrated author Ahdaf Soueif has described Shibli as “the most talked-about writer on the West Bank,” a testament to her significant impact in the literary world.

“Touch” intricately weaves the everyday experiences of its young protagonist into a narrative of profound depth and resonance. The simplicity of her daily life — observing funeral processions, navigating sibling relationships, the joy of learning to read, and the budding emotions of young love — are presented with such gravity that they stand parallel to national tragedies. This narrative approach brings the broader historical and political context of Palestine, including the harrowing events of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, into a subtle yet powerful focus.

Shibli’s narrative style in “Touch” is remarkable for its blend of naturalism and a sense of estrangement, setting her apart from traditional Arabic fiction. Her prose transforms ordinary words and actions into significant events, akin to pebbles creating ripples in water, each with inevitable and far-reaching consequences. This stylistic choice not only garnered critical acclaim but also contributed to the novel’s nomination for the BTBA, an award that acknowledges the excellence in the field of literary translation.

“Touch” stands out for its ability to captivate readers through the quiet unfolding of its narrative, proving that even the most mundane aspects of life can be imbued with extraordinary significance. The novella is not just a collection of events; it’s a profound exploration of life’s subtleties against the backdrop of historical and political turmoil. Shibli’s work in “Touch,” culminating in its recognition by the BTBA, showcases the profound impact that nuanced storytelling can have in capturing the essence of the human experience.

Read More About Adania Shibli

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