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British authors attending first Palestine Festival of Literature


London : Seventeen international authors, mainly from the UK, are launching the first Palestine Festival of Literature in the occupied territories.

But the writers, supported by the British Council, Unesco and a number of charitable foundations, are being confined to audiences in the West Bank, being unable to travel to Gaza because of the continuing Israeli siege.

The aim of the 5-day festival, which opened in Jerusalem Tuesday, is to express solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people and in recognition of Palestine’s cultural contribution to the world.

The British charity organisers said that they were “inspired by the call of the late great Palestinian thinker, Edward Said, to reaffirm the power of culture over the culture of power.”

The tour by English, Scottish, Irish, French, American, Indian, Sudanese, Lebanese and Palestinian authors, playwrights, editors and poets, includes Ramallah, Jenin and Bethlehem.

Among the most notable, British playwright Sir David Hare, whose most recent works includes the invasion of Iraq, is discussing political theatre with Palestinian counterparts.

Other attending include Scottish author William Dalrmple, Irish playwright Roddy Doyle, US-based Palestinian poet Esther Freud, Scottish writer Andrew O’Hagan, British-Sudanese writer Jamal Mahjoub, and American-Palestinian poet Suheir Hammad.