Gaza Writes Back, Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine
By Refaat Alareer, ed.
2014, Just World Books, 978-1-93598-235-7, $20 pb.
Reviewed by Piney Kesting on June 21, 2016
Gaza Writes Back is a sobering collection of short stories by 15 young Palestinians living in Gaza. Published some five years after Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, each story shares a common thread of courageous resistance that rises above loss and despair. “Telling our own tales is resistance … resistance to forgetfulness and to occupation,” writes Alareer. One story, Toothache in Gaza by Sameeha Elwan, describes Palestinians fortunate enough to qualify for an UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) card to get food supplies. Yet that same card “was and continues to be an insult to remind us of the little that refugees get in comparison to what they have really lost. Would a bag of flour compensate for the farmland they once had? Would the two bottles of oil make them forget their olive trees, which have been mercilessly uprooted as they themselves were?” Poignant and often heartbreaking, the 23 stories put a human face to life in a part of the world that is often viewed only through the distorted lens of politics.