Monthly Archives: September 2016

34 Years Later: Memory and Violence in Literary Sabras and Shatilas

Arabic Literature (in English)

It’s now been thirty-four years since the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps. It is a site to which literature returns and returns; still attempting, if not to make sense, to make connections, to reformulate the questions:

Dia al-Azzawi's

Dia al-Azzawi’s “Sabra and Shatila Massacre”

Most of the literary representations of the massacres in two Palestinian refugee camps don’t aim to hold a mirror to the three days of horror, which took place in 1982, between September 16 and 18. Instead, the literature places this terrifying slaughter into a context of other moments. The works ask how we understand it, how it was and has been exploited, how it changed in our memories; how it changed and changes our understandings of self.

A few from the many:

Jean Genet’s “Quatre heures à Chatila” (“Four Hours in Shatila”). Genet was among the first outsiders to witness the immediate aftermath of the massacres, and he wrote about…

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