Mario Vargas Llosa, Michael Chabon Among Writers Collaborating on Book on Israeli Occupation

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Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize winner in literature Mario Vargas Llosa.
Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize winner in literature Mario Vargas Llosa.Credit: AP

A number of famous writers will participate in a book on the occupation to be edited by award-winning author Michael Chabon and his Israeli-American wife Ayelet Waldman. The book will be published in June 2017 by HarperCollins in the United States, and by Books in the Attic (Sifrey Aliyat Hagag) in Israel.

The book is an initiative of Breaking the Silence to mark 50 years of the occupation.

The writers will visit Israel and the West Bank for a week before writing their articles. They will come as delegations and their organized tour will include a few days in villages in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and meetings with Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists, intellectuals and legal experts. Each author will choose their focus and study those issues more deeply, including additional visits.

Michael Chabon.Credit: The Associated Press

The first delegation will begin its visit today and includes British authors Hari Kunzru and Taiye Selasi, and Irish novelist Eimear McBride. The other writers will come later this year, including the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, Dave Eggers, Lorraine Adams, Rachel Kushner and Colm Toibin. They will be joined by Israeli and Palestinian authors Ala Hlehel, Assaf Gavron, Raja Shehadeh and Nir Baram.

Waldman, Chabon and Vargas Llosa wrote to the participants they are not looking for Middle East experts, but storytellers. They said they believed storytellers could give new life to the situation and the conditions so readers could understand it in new ways, through human stories and not through the destructive details they see in the news.

Chabon and Waldman distributed a document they wrote jointly, which explains the idea behind the project, telling of a visit they made to Israel in 1992, during the period of the Oslo Accords, which was Chabon’s first visit to Israel. They speak of the atmosphere that has changed so sharply since then.

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