Minor Detail | Adania Shibli

historical fiction | translated | based on a true story

First published 2017

Minor Detail by Adania Shibli on green blog and books background with white spiral logo and text





"The borders imposed between

things here are many."

Minor Detail is split into two parts. The first half of the novel recounts the brutal gang rape and subsequent murder of a young Arab Bedoiun-Palestinian girl in the Negev desert in 1949. The girl is held hostage, raped and then murdered by soldiers from the Israeli army. This part of the book is told from the point of view of an unnamed army commander who allows his men to rape the young girl and then orders her murder. The commander has been sent to Negev and is tasked with making sure the area is clear of Arabs during the 1947-49 War of Independence.

Part two introduces us to a new protagonist, an unnamed female who lives in Ramallah. She discovers a newspaper report that details the rape of the young girl in 1949, the date of which happens to coincide with her own birthday. She decides to embark upon a quest for truth to tell this story from the victim's point of view. Her investigation takes her on a risky roadtrip where she visits the archives of the Israeli Defense Force Museum, razed villages and to a site that is beyond the zone permitted by her ID card.

The abrupt and callous ending brings the reality of living in a place where fear is ever present and everyday freedoms are curtailed, sharply into focus. 

My Verdict

This was an incredibly sad and moving book. I thought it was an interesting choice not to name any of the "characters." The events are described in a very matter-of-fact way, without a lot of emotion. Again, reading this book while the Israeli/Hamas conflict continues to excalate was quite difficult. I think this is an important book and this writer should be more widely read.

Published 23.01.2024

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