Palfest: Who represents whom in literature?
This year’s Palfest raises important questions of the politics of literary representation: Aljazeera
On the opening night of the sixth Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) in Ramallah, an impassioned controversy broke out over the political correctness of literary and cultural representations of Palestinians in world literature. The renowned Danish writer Hanne-Vibeke Holst read an excerpt from her 2011 novel, Undskyldningen (The Apology), which injects a Palestinian turned suicide bomber, Khalil, into a rocky relationship between a liberal mother, Helena Tholstrup, and her daughter Sophie. Holst had not finished reading when some members of audience audibly made it clear that such images are offensive and outrageous.
International literary and cultural event like PalFest are no strangers to controversy, but they also can offer excellent and productive opportunities to reflect on the ways in which literary and cultural production can help transcend stereotypical Orientalist images. They can also open up a space for cultural dialogue, soul searching, and mutual translation.