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Touch Paperback – March 31, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Celebrated young Palestinian writer Shibli-a playwright, author and essayist now located in the UK-makes her American debut with an exquisite, powerful novella that transports readers to her West Bank homeland. In spare prose, Shibli follows an unnamed little girl, the youngest in a large Palestinian family, as she examines her world and tries to understand her place in it. Though focused on the finest details-flakes of rust against skin, the softness of grass-Shibli takes readers to the center of a family and a culture, using the same careful, dispassionate observation to report everyday events like the father's shaving as she does to depict the death of a sibling in area violence. Like a great volume of poetry, Sibli's first novel (her second is forthcoming from Clockroot) has rhythm and unexpected momentum, and cries for re-reading.

Review

"The opening of [Touch]... introduces a fragile little girl, standing alone in her landscape, in the shadow of an old, rusty water tank. She touches one of the supporting legs of the tank, and tiny, cold stains of rust stick to her palm. She stretches her hand out of the shade to warm it up in the sun, and her hand becomes sprinkled with shiny dots of shimmering gold. This is, to my mind, what Adania Shibli does with her amazingly and beguilingly simple language: making the rusty stains of reality disappear, and then making them reappear in writing as stains of gold."--Anton Shammas, author of Arabesques --Anton Shammas

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Clockroot Books; 1 edition (March 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566568072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566568074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darryl R. Morris on August 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Adania Shibli is a Palestinian author who was recently recognized at the Hay Beirut39 Literature Festival, which featured 39 Arab authors under 39 years of age. An accomplished novelist and writer of short stories and essays, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of East London.

"Touch" is a novella about a young Palestinian girl, which consists of five themed sections of prose poetry: colors, silence, movement, language, and the wall. Although tragedy, sadness and isolation are present throughout the narrative, there are only a couple of fleeting references to the Palestinian struggle, which seemingly have little if any impact on the life of the girl. The writing is beautiful and evocative, and this slim book is best read slowly, attentively and repeatedly for fuller enjoyment and appreciation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
When you live in a persistent warzone, every day is a new challenge. "Touch" is a novella following a young girl in modern Palestine, as she faces life's challenges as he world continues to rage on around her. From the simple processes of life to the constant tragedies, "Touch" proves to be a fascinating and insightful novella, not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on November 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like a pouch of snapshots dropped and scattered, the 33 vignettes in this very short novella about a young Palestinian girl rely on the reader to put them in order and make meaning. Their spareness is riveting, and Shibli's language (with Paula Haydar's translation from the Arabic) is extraordinary, opening the mind and seeding the subconscious to bring forth details and a story beyond what is written on the page (for me, reminiscent of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying). I loved it and about half-understood it; I so look forward to reading it again.
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The novel’s title is perfect as it reflects the sensory element of the novel and the writing style. The book is organized by the senses and how we make sense of them. The chapters–“colors,” “silence,” “movement,” “language”–reflect several senses: sight, hearing, and most importantly, touch. The final chapter, “the wall,” is one page and breaks from the sensory theme, just as the main character must break from her world.

The short, one-syllable title does not boast a majuscule “T.” The novel is almost as short as its title. Each section within the chapter is short, loaded. Reader, do not be deceived: though this novel (really novella) is only 72 pages, it does not read quickly. The writing is as sparse as the title. The book leaves us with a desire to find solid footing and cannot be rushed.

touch tells the story of a young girl in Palestine. She earns no name in the book. Her anonymity lends her a universal quality as she comes of age during a time of strife and struggle. The reader experiences her world through the senses, and only through them do we learn of the actions that occur in her world, the most important of which are the death of her brother and falling in love. The entire book is suffused with longing for connection, one that will not come to her (hence the final separation in the final chapter “the wall). Her senses deny her any satisfaction. For example, she wishes to hear her brother’s voice after an ambulance delivers his dead body to their home: “The little girl listened very closely to the dead brother, but silence was all there was of him, forever” (23). There is no movement in her world after his death: “The sky had not changed its silence or its shape or its position after the brother’s soul rose up to it” (43).
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