Wednesday night in London saw the launch of the new book 'Gaza Writes Back', a collection of short stories by young Palestinian authors published by Just World Books. The P21 Gallery venue was standing room only, as Victoria Brittain compered an evening of readings, testimony, and discussion by some of the book's contributors.
Two women currently studying in the UK, Rawan Yaghi and Jehan Alfarra, began by reading extracts from their stories. They were followed by a live Skype link-up with story-contributor Yousef Aljamal, and the book's editor Refaat Alareer, as well as a pre-recorded video by Mohammed Suliman.
Aside from reading moving passages from their stories, the young men and women discussed their motivations for writing the book, how it came to happen, the context of young Palestinians writing and blogging in English, and the impact of Israel's occupation on their lives.
The book consists of 23 short stories, intended to mark each day of 'Operation Cast Lead', the Israeli military-perpetrated massacre of December 2008-January 2009, and is published on the fifth anniversary of the infamous assault.
Contributors were keen to stress how the idea of the book is to present Palestinian stories and experienced directly and unmediated, engaging readers around the world and leading to a better understanding of their lived reality in the bombarded and besieged Gaza Strip.
The event concluded with a Q&A session where attendees expressed their gratitude and raised issues such as future projects, strategies of resistance amongst the youth, and the process by which stories were selected for publication.
'Gaza Writes Back' can be purchased from Just World Books here.