Raja Shehadeh Interview with the voice of Palestine

I was lucky enough to ask the award winning Palenstine writer and Human rights Lawyer  Raja Shehadeh ,about his current book and its main character his Ottoman uncle Najib ,also his views on the current situation in the wider Arabic world .He was the 2008 Orwell prize winner .

1.      What do you think your Uncle Najib would make of the current  situation in the Arabic world ?

Najib was a man of the people who believed in people’s power. What is now taking place around many of the Arab countries exemplifies this. He would have felt confirmed in his belief that people can win freedom if they work together against those exploiting and oppressing them.


2.      What would have been different if people like your uncle had been listened to more at the turn of the century pre-1948 ?

It is uncertain whether he could have rallied enough support to turn the tide. It is just as possible that those countries and movements behind the change were just too powerful to be stopped in their tracks by any degree of resistance from such prescient people like Najib.

3.      I’ve recently read the 1948 novel Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar and wondered if there was a Palestinian novel that gave the other side of the story written, set at the same time ?


What immediately comes to mind is Elias Khoury’s novel published a few years ago, Gate of the Sun.

4.      I got a real sense of the warmth of people around Lebanon and Palestine and wonder why this is not portrayed in western media as much?

Western media has by and large assisted in sustaining the negative stereotype of the Arab. But there is also the fact that it is only the shocking and horrific that makes it to the news bulletin and not the tranquil and warm which is manifest in abundance amongst Arab society as in many others.


5.      What are your feelings on the current wave of freedom/liberation sweeping the Arabic world ?

The most significant change that occurred is that it brought renewed hope and cured many of the young of the debilitating cynicism that can so often lead to horrible consequences when it infects the new generation.


6.      How do you think the current activities in the Arab world will  effect Palestine?

They will have a tremendous impact by shaking forever the status quo that has enabled the suffering of the Palestinians to continue with impunity with one disaster following another, always deemed justifiable and necessary to prevent worse evils. Many of the assumptions and fears that were used to hold together this shaky world of the Middle East have since been found to be exaggerated and often the creation of autocrats who propagated them to help them hold on to the reins of power.


7.      Your personal history has been tinged by sadness; how do you remain so positive and poetic?

I find writing to be therapeutic. I believe authors have a duty to help create new and better realities by first imagining them and whenever possible turn the “stuff of life” into poetry.


8.      Which Palestinian voices in literature should we be reading?

Suad Amiry, Murid Barghouti, Adania Shibli and Fadi Joudah.


9.      What are you currently working on?

A work of non-fiction based on my diaries that tries to make sense of the developments of the past two years.



Thanks to Raja and Jazz and the people at profile for this interview .I shall be review some other Rajas other books and another book from a Palenstine writer by Profile books.










22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. simon
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 09:07:19

    Great interview stu.


  2. The Book Whisperer
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 09:12:34

    How wonderful to read this interview, Stu, and how interesting too. You know how fascinated I am with the middle east (Israel/Palestine in particular) so this was great to read.

    I will be sure to look up those authors too 🙂


  3. Teresa (Lovely Treez Reads)
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 09:22:00

    A fascinating interview, Stu. I have become intrigued with Palestine having recently read A Rift in Time. Thank you.


  4. Gavin
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 13:48:19

    Stu, thanks to you and Raja Shehadeh for this interview. I read Palestinian Walks a couple of years ago and have A Rift In Time on hold at the library. I am adding the other authors to my TBR list.


  5. Heather
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 14:37:52

    Thank-you for such a wonderful interview. I have added this book to my reading list. Thanks again.


  6. Petty Witter
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 15:16:57

    Thanks for an interesting interview – it made a nice change to hear from someone different, an author who has not been interviewed by several bloggers – or not that I know of anyway.


  7. Geosi
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 17:25:19

    There’s no doubt I enjoyed this interview. I enjoyed his responses. I will be looking forward to your review of his other books.


  8. Kevin Faulkner
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 19:32:43

    Congrats on the interview coup ! I hope this kind of literary activity opens more doors for you, good empathic questions and reporting.


  9. Rob
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 08:05:38

    Thank you Stu and Raja for such a captivating and insightful interview. And how sad but true to read the following: “Western media has by and large assisted in sustaining the negative stereotype of the Arab”.
    Warmest Rob


  10. Valerie
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 19:24:39

    Great and informative interview, Stu. I have an interest in Palestine myself so am always pleased to find more sources to follow. I do think that Palestine/Israel is one domino in the domino effect that happening in that part of world right now.


  11. Trackback: A Rift in Time by Raja Shehadeh | Page247
  12. Trackback: Keep your eye on the wall Palestinian landscapes | Winstonsdad's Blog

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March 2011


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