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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"The most talked-about writer on the West Bank."
--Ahdaf Soueif, author of In the Eye of the Sun

Touch centers on a girl, the youngest of nine sisters in a Palestinian family. In the singular world of this novella, this young woman's everyday experiences--watching a funeral procession, fighting with her siblings, learning to read, perhaps falling in love--resonate until th

Paperback, 72 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by Interlink Books (first published 2010)
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Chad Post
This novella is about one young girl in Palestine and how she experiences the world through "Colors," "Silence," "Movement," "Language," and "The Wall." The writing is very pretty, very poetic, with a strange sort of distance. Here's an excerpt from the part I liked best:

"The little girl stood on the edge of the veranda, hugging the paint-chipped post beside her, her hair covered with the mother's headscarf, and her eyes glued to the distant street where the sounds seemed to have disappeared.

Touch is a very small book, only 72 pages long, but it bears the weight of the conflict that has shaped global politics throughout my lifetime. Shibli is a Palestinian author and this themed collection of prose poems alludes only lightly to the death and mourning that seems almost to be a daily event in the Middle East. However there is a sense of a child seeing and hearing things that ought not to be in any child's childhood. It's poignant, and moving.
To read the rest of my review, please visit...more
Shonna Froebel
This novella is a very unusual book. The main character is only identified as "the girl" and all the other characters have equally general descriptors. As one slowly gathers, the girl is the ninth and youngest daughter of a Palestinian family. Her story ranges from everyday occurrences, such as interacting with her siblings and spending time with her family and the neighbour she begins a relationship with, to experiences more specific to her situation such as watching her family mourn her brothe...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Touch is a very short novella of only 72 pages––but despite its brevity, it's a lot to absorb. I had to read it twice in order to properly understand its contents.

The story is about a Palestinian girl, the youngest of ten children. The book goes through events in her day-to-day life, skipping back and forth throughout time, and even repeating certain points in the girl's significant memories.

During my first reading, I was pretty confused for most of the story. It's challenging to figure out the...more
Monica Carter
Every new book and every new day increased the distance between the two. In the meantime, the mother waited for the girl to move the books out of the way between the,. and the girl waited for the mother to read these books; the only time their two languages met was in an argument that accelerated their separation.

Adania Shibli's slight book,Touch, translated by Paula Haydar is a kaleidoscope of the five senses presented in distilled fragments of memory. The penultimate prosody, there is no dou...more
Shibli’s images are so intimate they’re haunting: a child pressing her hands into the rust of a water tower, gold flecks until there’s pain; carrying a bottle of cola to a funeral because it’s the closest thing to black that she can find. “Silence could live in the night if it weren’t for all the little sounds that the big sounds smothered during the day.”
Damesh Bridget
Perhaps my first book that I finished in one sit but doubt if I understood it. Compelling and magical novel that needs some background in Palestinian history to get the most out of it as long as getting the most out of it is possible. Anyway it is a beautiful book, especially the moments of the girl discovering reading and stealing a kiss
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 presen...more
Uzma Khan
I continue to feel shattered by how little attention this small, tough, and absolutely gorgeous book gets.
I wrote about it as my favorite books of 2010 for Granta, here: and I think I'll use bits of that review because I don't know how else to talk about it, really:
Touch could have been read in one day but I relished it over four; part of me still hurts that it’s over. It's constructed from the purest, most intimate sensations, beginning with the first pag...more
Brian Ladd
Aug 03, 2012 Brian Ladd rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brian by: Assigned Reading- Arab 151
Shelves: arab-151
ARAB 151 - Survey of Arab Literature

This was a quick read. The book way that the book is partitioned focuses on particular metaphors, and the writing within these sections hones in on these metaphors. So the section entitled, "Color" of course has vivid language and teases the narrative out through imagery consistent with the particular metaphor of seeing, and especially colorful language. While the section, "Silence," focuses on sound and the absence of sound, the abhorrence of sound. The sect...more
At 72 pages, this book shouldn't take too long to read, an hour or 75 minutes at the most? But it took me two hours to read because I was savoring every word. I don't know if Shibli (or her translator, Paula Haydar) is a poet professionally, but it wouldn't surprise me.

The book is multi-layered, divided into five thematic sections (colors, silence, movement, language, the wall). The writing is descriptive and a nod to the five senses. Each section brings the reader a heightened understanding of...more
I have been reading some interesting fiction in translation from the Middle East. Women writers from this region are sadly scarce and this one is by a Palestinian author who has twice been awarded the Young Writer's Award- Palestine.

Touch is a slight novella at only 72 pages and told from the viewpoint of a small girl , the youngest of nine girls in a Palestinian family. She details the minutia of daily life where the book is divided into five sections, Colors, Silence, Movement, Language and T...more
This novella is quite intriguing not so much for its content, but for its prose. Each chapter and section is kind of like a very small snapshot of a particular moment in space and time. But much of it is rather vague as to the specific context in which they take place. But the writing is quite poetic and moving, especially the section called "language" in which the protagonist goes to school and begins learning Arabic. The book is a lovely little experimental novella that is not entirely describ...more
#15/2011 ... This novella was recently named to the 25-title fiction longlist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards. I'm somewhat of a foreign fiction junkie and eagerly await this yearly list/award. Shibli's "Touch", while interesting and solid enough, left me a little ho-hum. Some scenes certainly had greater impact than others but I've yet to determine if there will be any impression left in a week or two...
A novelette, fewer than 100 pp (large-ish print pages at that).

Has garnered great reviews and much buzz ("THE Palestinian new voice," etc.).

If so, the voice left me cold. Perhaps it was the translator's fault, but the text seemed at once flat and obscure, yet I think the vignettes of stories of a girl's life were supposed to be touching, wrenching, empathetic. Go figure. Read for my book club.
I loved this one in Arabic, and this translation is remarkable. Haydar does an excellent job preserving the 'child-like' sense of Shibli's narrative. Both the Arabic original and the translation use a powerful blend of physicality and ambiguity to weave together vignettes from a young girl's life. The result is as much poetry as it is prose.
Beautiful story about a girl processing the violence she has absorbed. It is enigmatic, and for that reason, as well as because of its ongoing theme of silence, it is paired with Reticence in my mind.
Beautiful writing. I want to read more by this author!
Such a beautiful and original book.
A beauty.
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