International journalist Bidisha and British Palestinian novelist Selma Dabbagh discuss the challenges and responsibilities of writing about Palestine from their respective standpoints. For example, whether the choice of fiction or non-fiction subtly influences the way a very pressing contemporary issue is depicted or whether it gives a writer freedom to go beyond the situation and address universal issues.
How do you subjugate a people? Beyond the Wall: Writing A Path Through Palestine goes some way to answering this harrowing question and is based on Bidisha’s first visit to the West Bank as a reporter in 2011. It is an unflinching portrait of life in this region in the 21st Century, seen through the eyes of ordinary citizens, children, activists, international aid workers, reporters and foreign visitors. Since publication in May 2012 Beyond the Wall has garnered international praise and sales.
Selma Dabbagh’s first novel Out of It (Bloomsbury, 2011), set between Gaza, London and the Gulf, was listed as a Guardian Book of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published by Granta, International PEN and the British Council. She is currently working on a second novel about expatriate living and a BBC Radio Play set in the West Bank.