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The Betrayal of Language

Foredrag ved Adania Shibli

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How can you write when language betrays you, when it is erased, taken from you?

When Adania Shibli first realized how language was erased from the map, was also the first time she realized that language can betray you. On Israeli maps, she couldn’t find the names of the Palestinian villages she knew. The had been given new, Hebrew names, or were erased altogether. Maybe this is the reason why silences and omissions have become so important to Shibli. Her novels tend to be just as much about what is not said, as the actual words on the page.

Adania Shibli is a critically acclaimed Palestinian writer, and holds a PhD in media and cultural studies. She has published three novels in Arabic, and Minor Detail is the first to be translated into Norwegian. 

The novel was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2021, and in 2023, it won the prestigious German LiBeraturpreis. However, they chose to postpone the award ceremony indefinitely after Hamas’s terror attack on October 7th and Israel’s following war on Gaza, a decision met with extensive criticism internationally.

In this personal lecture, Shibli will reflect on her experience with silence, and languages that are silenced, followed by a short Q&A.


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