Suppressed Narrator, Silenced Victim in Adina Shibli’s Minor Detail
Although the systematic eviction of Palestinians from their homeland has been recorded at length since the establishment of the state of Israel in 948, the documentation has namely concerned itself with urban centers or villages. Expulsion and removal of marginalized communities, namely the Bedouins’, from their ancestral encampments or homes have been given scant coverage by main stream media or even academia. A nomadic life is often stigmatized by the notion of transience, and thus barely considered as valuable as other lives. Furthermore, the ownership and rights to the lands that nomadic people occupy are rarely recognized. In her latest novel, Minor Detail, Palestinian writer Adania Shibli traces the story of a Bedouin girl in 1949 and her brutal slaying at the hands of Zionist gangs through the narrative of a young West Bank woman from Ramallah, who becomes obsessed with uncovering the burial site of the slain girl. The nameless narrator in the book embarks on a journey in an attempt to unravel the circumstances behind the death of the nameless Bedouin girl; her expedition results in unearthing minor details relating to the ethnic cleansing of the girl’s tribe along with their silenced history. The novel evolves into a story of parallel lives, albeit 25 years apart. The Ramallah woman’s insistence in finding the exact place in which the atrocity was committed develops into a quest that is haunted by specters from the past. In this paper, I will argue that exposing the story of the Bedouin girl and her community not only allows the reader to reconstruct the marginalized lives of a people who were and remain part of the fabric of a disappearing country but is also an attempt at marking an absent life.
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