By Rheea Mukherjee

In 2012, I had a fabulous poet and social activist stay with us at home, with her two kids. She was African-Canadian and had a tremendous sense of style. Walking the streets of Bangalore, she would get the inevitable stares: some curious, some awed; and some expressions were inscrutable.  Her two very young children had big hair. One had dreads, and the other, a giant bush that adorned his round face.

Once, Shanti, my house help at the time, was cutting vegetables in the kitchen. One of the boys popped out of the bedroom and walked into the kitchen. She looked at him and shrieked. Yes, she quite literally screamed in terror, then stood, frozen until I went up to her and looked at her in astonished embarrassment.

“I got so scared, I have never seen anyone who looks like this.”

This year’s Palfest raises important questions of the politics of literary representation: Aljazeera

palfest_finalOn 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.