Claire Messud’s beautifully written and painfully evocative account of her visit to occupied Palestine where she was a featured writer at the Palestine Festival of Literature. It is also noteworthy that this article appears in the Boston Globe which is owned by the New York Times company. This is the power of culture, it can infiltrate territories otherwise proscribed for dissenting views.
I RECENTLY returned from a literary festival that was to have opened and closed in Jerusalem; but which, to our surprise, opened in France and closed in the United Kingdom.
Some 20-odd writers from the world over–including the popular British travel writer and comedian Michael Palin; Sweden’s preeminent thriller writer Henning Mankell; and Canada’s Giller Prize-winning M.G. Vassanji – found our events at Jerusalem’s Palestine National Theater shut down by machine-gun toting Israeli soldiers in flak jackets. On the first evening, with a Gallic flourish, Jean-Paul Ghoneim of the French Consulate opened the French Cultural Center impromptu, and hosted our event on nominally French soil: we paraded through the streets in our party clothes, bearing trays of canapés and looking, I’m sure, very threatening indeed.