Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba – the catastrophe that led to the displacement and expulsion of more than 700,000 people – and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers capture and rape a young Palestinian woman, and kill and bury her in the sand. Many years later, a woman in Ramallah becomes fascinated to the point of obsession with this ‘minor detail’ of history.
A haunting meditation on war, violence and memory, Minor Detail cuts to the heart of the Palestinian experience of dispossession, life under occupation, and the persistent difficulty of piecing together a narrative in the face of ongoing erasure and disempowerment.
‘All novels are political and Minor Detail, like the best of them, transcends the author’s own identity and geography. Shibli’s writing is subtle and sharply observed.’
— Fatima Bhutto, The Guardian
Times Books of the Year 2020
- Publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions
- Translator: Elisabeth Jaquette
- Published 6 May 2020
- French paperback with flaps, 120 pages
‘A sophisticated, oblique novel about empathy and the urge to right wrongs’ — Anthony Cummins, Observer
‘An intense and penetrating work about the profound impact of living with violence—Shibli’s work is powerful and this translation by Elisabeth Jaquette is rendered with exquisite clarity and quiet control.’ — Katie da Cunha Lewin, Los Angeles Review of Books
‘In Elisabeth Jaquette’s fine translation from Arabic, Shibli asks how we can account for and understand major crimes, by looking more closely for the details that escape.’ — Prospect
‘This is an astonishing, major book.’ — Lit Hub
‘It is brutal, hypnotic and haunting.’ — The Monthly
‘The formal triumph of Minor Detail lies in its circumscribed focus. By honing in on a single incident, breaking it down into its constituent parts, exploring its reverberations through time, Shibli leads the reader to imagine the thousands of such minor details that have been erased from the historical record.’
— The Baffler
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Adania Shibli was born in Palestine in 1974. Her first two novels appeared in English with Clockroot Books as Touch (tr. Paula Haydar, 2010) and We Are All Equally Far From Love (tr. Paul Starkey, 2012). She was awarded the Young Writer’s Award by the A. M. Qattan Foundation in 2002 and 2004.
Elisabeth Jaquette is an award-winning translator from the Arabic, whose work includes Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue, Rania Mamoun’s Thirteen Months of Sunrise, and Dima Wannous’s The Frightened Ones. She is also executive director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA).