Book Review: Minor Detail by Adania Shibli

Free Palestine Now

I keep thinking of this book. I would have posted one of my pithy reviews for this sooner but I was busy. Urgency has a way of invoking urgency, though. It is Sunday May 16, and Gaza is being hollowed out. We are all seeing the news together, so I do not need to elaborate.

Free Palestine Now.

Minor Detail [ (c) Adania Shibli, Arabic, 2016. English, 2020: New Directions; (c) Translated by: Elisabeth Jaquette] is at 144 pages, a must-read, in that you have no excuse not to sit down with this for an hour. I urge you be prepared for the discovery of the most affecting novel of crafted reflection. I say discovery because the author, the story, the style, the stylistics, were all quite the discovery for me. The main characters—an Israeli soldier and murderer in Part 1, and a young female Palestinian journalist on the spectrum in Part 2—poisoned and doomed, by land that neither is believed to be owed.

I can’t really describe this book, except to say that it is imperative one read this in print. In the interest of full disclosure, I attempted to read this on a Kindle first (NBA was avoiding shipments due to Covid-19 vigilance, ha!) and did not get it. I was sent the hard copy and A) wow, best cover design ever, and B) was not able to stop thinking about the book for weeks.

Minor details of war should not be all that trigger sympathy, but if beautiful prose can open your eyes, then this chamber piece will hopefully haunt you like it did me. We should endeavor as much as possible to see more of Adania Shibli, and I fear that’s no longer a figure of speech.