A cultural initiative with the vision of creating a narrative against 21st century colonialism, the 2023 edition of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) begins from May 20th till May 25th featuring eminent authors and thinkers from across the globe.
The festival is a free and public event held across Palestine. It was created in 2008 as ‘an act of cultural solidarity with Palestine’ and was established by a group of thought leaders and cultural figures brought together by Ahdaf Soueif, the festival’s founding chair.
William Faulkner had rightly said in his play “Requiem for a Nun,” that “the past is never dead, it is not even past.”Taking cue from this quote, PalFest over the past decade and more has sought to create conversations about colonial techniques of control over resources and history. The event not only aims at presenting a ‘connection between the colonization of Palestine and the accelerating systems of control and dispossession around the world,’ it invites its eminent roster of speakers to experience a ‘fraction of life in Palestine’ and its global ramifications in terms of racial discrimination, segregation, social injustice, inequalities and more.
This year’s theme ‘Palestine and the Global South’ focuses on “the question of the relationship of Palestine with the Global South. What, today, is the Global South? It no longer exists as a geographical distinction, but rather a dividing line that runs between elites and the exploited across the world.”
According to the PalFest website: “At the height of the era of nominal decolonization and the Non-Aligned Movement, there was clear solidarity with the Palestinian cause across a geographic, state-based Global South. But with the end of the Cold War and the thirty year march of globalized capitalism those dynamics have been significantly re-arranged.”
The event will feature thought provoking panel discussions such as Surviving Colonialism at the Nordic Café in Jerusalem on May 21st, 2023. Speakers Zukiswa Wanner, a South African novelist, editor and curator; Dr Eve Ewing, a writer, scholar and cultural organiser from Chicago; and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, and musician will talk about ‘survival, knowledge, art and resistance’ vis-à-vis their works; which ‘is born of continuing struggles against erasure, apartheid and racial destruction.’ PalFest Producer, Mahdi Sabbagh, a writer, architect, and urbanist from Jerusalem will be chairing the conversation.
Another interesting discussion titled South Asia, Latin America and Palestine will be held at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah on May 24th, 2023. Helming the panel is Jerusalem’s Budour Hassan, and will be conversing with celebrated Chilean novelist and dramatist Lina Meruane as well as Oscar Guardiola-Rivera.
According to the PalFest program: “Meruane is a celebrated Chilean novelist and dramatist whose family’s roots are in Palestine. Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s critically acclaimed What If Latin America Ruled the World? (Bloomsbury, 2010) won the Frantz Fanon Award. Together, they will take the strength and variety of Latin American relations with Palestine as their starting point, asking ‘does art have to fill the silences?”
The festival will be launching new books by Isabella Hammad, Vera Tamari and Ahed Tamimi. For the first time, Palfest has also announced a dedicated film program, curated by Basma Alsharif.
The film program includes screenings of documentaries in Nabulus and Jerusalam etc. These include film installations Illinois Parables (2016) Distancing, Determining (2019) at the Al Maamal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem on May 21st, 2023. The Exiles (1961) will be screened at Project Hope, Nabulus on May 22nd, 2023.
PalFest has also produced its first anthology of writings, This Is Not A Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature.
Book lovers can browse through PalFest’s reading list by clicking on this link. 10% of any sales made through any of the organization’s Bookshop.org lists will be paid to PalFest and go towards the next festival.
Information Source: The Palestine Festival of Literature