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Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
Minor Detail revolves around a brutal crime committed one year after the War of 1948, which Palestinians mourn as the Nakba, the catastrophe that led to the displacement, exile, and refugeedom of more than 700,000 people, and which Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence.
Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah reads about this ‘minor detail’ in a larger context, and becomes fascinated by it to the point of obsession.
In this compelling novel, Shibli’s haunting prose is a form of resistance in itself.
‘Adania Shibli takes a gamble in entrusting our access to the key event in her novel – the rape and murder of a young Bedouin woman – to two profoundly self-absorbed narrators – an Israeli psychopath and a Palestinian amateur sleuth high on the autism scale – but her method of indirection justifies itself fully as the book reaches its heart-stopping conclusion.’
‘Shibli has created a powerful set of dual heroines, women wracked with disquiet and violence, resisting the frames that have first, been chosen for them, then denied to have ever existed. This is an astonishing, major book.’
‘Adania Shibli’s exceptional novel Minor Detail belongs to the genre of the novel as resistance, as revolutionary text. Simultaneously depicting the dehumanisation that surrounds rape and land-grab, it is a text that palpitates with fear and with outrage. As we join the nameless young woman in her quest to find the truth of a long-forgotten atrocity, we realize how dangerous it is to reclaim life and history in the face of ongoing, systematic erasure. The narrative tempo, that eventually reaches a crescendo, astutely captures how alienation and heightened anxiety are elemental states of living under Israeli occupation. This is the political novel we have all been waiting for.’
‘An extraordinary work of art, Minor Detail is continuously surprising and absorbing: a very rare blend of moral intelligence, political passion and formal virtuosity.’
‘Written with an exquisite, tactile, and deceptive simplicity, Minor Detail tells the story of a woman’s violation and murder in the aftermath of the Palestinian catastrophe and the founding of the Israeli state, and of another woman’s curiosity about this “minor detail” in the modern day. Immediately after I finished reading this miraculous novel, I read it again; both times, it sliced through my heart. I believe it will be one for the ages.’
‘The power of this book is undeniable. The two halves close around you. I am here for whatever Shibli writes.’
‘Startling, cinematic: Shibli’s masterly, acidic work of subtle symbolism and plot symmetry gives no access to the thoughts of the Israeli soldiers or their victim, making the Palestinian woman’s subsequent first-person narration all the more arresting. This is a remarkable exercise in dramatizing a desire for justice.’