Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba--the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people--and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, and among their victims they capture a Palestinian teenager and they rape her, kill her, and bury her in the sand.
Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah tries to uncover some of the details surrounding this particular rape and murder, and becomes fascinated to the point of obsession, not only because of the nature of the crime, but because it was committed exactly twenty-five years to the day before she was born. Adania Shibli masterfully overlays these two translucent narratives of exactly the same length to evoke a present forever haunted by the past.
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About the Author
The most talked-about writer on the West Bank.--Ahdaf Soueif
In Adania Shibli's subversively quiet, compelling Minor Detail, threads of connection are embodied in a young woman's quest to find almost erased history. Written in spare, careful language (praise also to translator Elisabeth Jaquette), Shibli helps reclaim what would be obliterated by forces actively at work yet today, doing so with a narrative masterfully carrying both surprise and inevitability within. This book has devastation and loss to a shattering, wrenching degree, and yet. Yes, and yet.--Rick Simonson
Adania Shibli takes a gamble in entrusting our access to the key event in her novel - the rape and murder of a young Bedouin woman - to two profoundly self-absorbed narrators - an Israeli psychopath and a Palestinian amateur sleuth high on the autism scale - but her method of indirection justifies itself fully as the book reaches its heart-stopping conclusion.--J. M. Coetzee
"Like an affidavit in its egalitarian specificity--every detail of every character's action is accounted for, and therefore scrutinized. A starkly poetic accounting of a crime, its burial, and its exhumation."--Alia Persico-Shammas