Book Launch: Palestinian women, political prisoners, and literary festivals...

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19 March 2018
6 - 9pm
SOAS, University of London


A stunning outcome of the Palestine Festival of Literature, Iraqi author, activist, former political prisoner, and PalFest speaker Haifa Zangana is in conversation with SOAS Research Fellow Nora Parr about A Party for Thaera, a resonating collection of Palestinian women political prisoners’ writing. Chaired by Prof. Wen-chin Ouyang.

PalFest is a London-based literary festival that brings internationally known authors to Palestine each year to carry out readings and workshops across the site of Palestine. A long-time activist, former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and acclaimed author, Haifa Zangana was a logical fit.

A Party for Thaera, newly published in its original Arabic, is a series of narratives written by women who participated in Zangana's workshops. While they began with PalFest, these workshops continued well after the festival tour ended. The women who contributed to the volume are all former political prisoners. Like Zangana's own visceral reflections in Dreaming of Baghdad, the narratives collected in A Party for Thaera (which takes its name from a party held for the child Thaera while she and her mother are in an Israeli detention facility) are sensitive, personal, powerful, and highly critical.

Conversation will begin with the stories of the women and excerpts in English translation, and extend to some of the political and literary implications of such a project: from transnational solidarities that cross the 'global south' but run through London, to Prison Literature as a genre of writing (its limitations and possibilities), and the challenges of dissemination within and between linguistic contexts.

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Poster for Haifa Zangana