Adania Shibli

Palestinian writer

Adania Shibli (Arabic: عدنية شبلي) (born 1974) is a Palestinian author and essayist. Shibli and her children split their time between Jerusalem and Berlin.

Adania Shibli (2020)


  • I’m open to where life leads me.
  • There was a certain period of time a person could either be inside or outside of Palestine. But now our being is always mingled with so many places at the same time.
  • In the last twenty years, the separation between Palestinians and Israelis has become much more severe than before. You feel the inequality. You feel the privileges—it’s how the state works in a racist system, how certain groups are privileged over others. The question why it should be like this comes up at an early age—to a child, the situation is just incomprehensible. You are surprised—how could this be? Is there something wrong with me?
  • Differences between people are used to commit injustice—that was an early lesson about racism.
  • If you are listening, it becomes so natural that you care, and you create a connection of care toward others that is not limited to the borders of the nation-state
  • People may gain from literature what they cannot get from their own lives. It’s not escapism but rather a kind of openness.
  • this landscape has an alliance with language; they exist together and actually can haunt you, despite any attempt at their erasure.
  • I always ask myself what kind of terrible things I could commit. This is a question for any human being.
  • I am for polyphony: there can be many, many different languages. Considering all these current divisions between ethnicities and religions, it’s madness to have a state, and I really don’t understand the joy in forcing people together.
  • I only write fiction in Arabic because this language is a witch—an amazing, funny, crazy, generous, and forgiving witch. It has allowed me everything. It is the space of the most intimate freedom I have ever experienced in my life.
  • Once my engagement with any text as a writer finishes, and it's finally published or appears in book form, I never return to it as a reader. I do not know why the idea of reading my own published texts repulses me, but I know that reading books written by others is a lifeline.
  • Linguistic erasure on maps is where you first experience the betrayal of language; the erasure of Palestine from the map continues today. Your linguistic consciousness from an early age is built on reading these omissions. This is something I think I’ve been concerned with since the first text I wrote.
  • to “think about” Palestine is already a position of privilege that I would not like to engage with. My concern with Palestine is a personal one, not a literary one. It forms my literature; but my literature is never about Palestine. It is rather within and from Palestine as a condition of injustice; of the normalization of pain and degradation.
  • It is within such structures that I feel a grand narrative can exist, like a dictatorship—solid, like the worst tyrant.
  • I’m not striving for abstraction, but precision—where the words that want to be in the text can find their place in it.
  • I’m fascinated by what borders try to prevent, and why. And sometimes by how their meaning and the perception of them shifts from one situation to another.
  • As one lives in a place that seems like a punishment for a crime they didn’t commit, it raises harsh questions in relation to simple ideas like justice, or it’s absence, at an early age...maybe the realization of the repeated injustice that one cannot escape in the context of Palestine was the first force to push me early on into literature.
  • Femininity to me is about the opposition to power and order in the sadistic fashion.
  • I always find a place with words to create parallel possibilities where dehumanization thrives. However, in real life, you need to neutralize all your emotions and become numb, but then writing neutralizes that neutralization. Other people don’t have words for their rescue. But something else, a walk, a pavement, a tree, a stone, endless minor objects that turn into the place where they practice their humanity, a place where oppression cannot reach or destroy.
  • The oppressor wants first to destroy your wish to live, and then you neutralize it by acting as if this is normal. But then you keep a secret hidden zone that the oppressor finds so minor that they wouldn’t bother to destroy.
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