Out of It, Bloomsbury, (2011, 2012)
“An original and vivid voice. Full of energy, this is a new and welcome take on the Palestinian story.” AHDAF SOUEIF
From the back cover:
Gaza is being bombed. After spending the night getting stoned watching it happen, Rashid gets the escape route he’s been waiting for: a scholarship to London. His sister, Iman – frustrated by atrocities and inaction around her – has also been up all night, in a meeting that offers her nothing but more frustration. Grabbing at an opportunity to make a difference, she finds herself being followed by an unknown fighter. Meanwhile Sabri, the oldest brother of this disparate family, works on a history of Palestine from his wheelchair as their mother feuds with their neighbours.
Written with extraordinary humanity and humour, and moving between Gaza, London and the Gulf, Out of It is a tale that redefines Palestine and its people. It follows the lives of Rashid and Iman as they try to forge paths for themselves in the midst of occupation, religious fundamentalism and the divisions between Palestinian factions. It tells of family secrets, unlikely love stories and unburied tragedies as it captures the frustrations and energies of the modern Arab world.
Other language editions:
Arabic – Gaze Taht el Jild. trans. Khulood Amr (BQFP, 2015)
Italian – Fuori Da Gaza trans. Barbara Benini (Altriarabi, Il Sirente, Sept. 2017)
French – Gaza Dans La Peau, trans. Benoït Auvergne (Editions de L’Aube, Sept. 2017)
‘Takes us into the lives and feelings of those who live in Gaza and want ordinary lives.’ Marina Warner, a Guardian Book of the Year 2012.
Other States, Other Lives.
Saffron and Oz live on a small compound on the Peninsula, hemmed in between a village brewing with political unrest and a luxury development whose construction has been stalled. Saffron reads the erotic journals of Anaïs Nin and works part-time in a frustrating job. Oz works all the time and has a successful career. They’ve been together for years and both drink a lot.
Saffron blames the Peninsula for her malaise and is desperate to move, but the alternatives for Oz are never entirely satisfactory. She is also keen to have children, but they rarely have sex and neither of them wish to revisit IVF.
By the time of the neighbours’ party that opens the novel, Saffi has resigned herself to the idea that no one will ever find her physically attractive or intellectually interesting again. It is here that she meets Toby, a young man, who ignites new physical passions in her. With the arrival from London of another teenager, Cal, barriers start to break down; between the compound and the village, the teenagers and the grown-ups, Saffron and Toby as well as that of Saffron, Oz and her own past.
Other States, Other Lives is is set in a fictional country, the Peninsula, that merges existent realities. It is inspired by novels of closed, privileged environments like JG Ballard’s Super Cannes and Anna Kavan’s Who Are You?
GRANTS / SUPPORT
British Council Grant
In August 2013, Selma Dabbagh was one of the five international writers to be awarded a grant by the British Council to help support the writing of Other States, Other Lives (Previous working title: We Are Here Now.) The awards were announced at the World Writer’s Festival in Edinburgh.
Arts Council Grant
In March 2014, an Arts Council Grant was awarded by the Arts Council England to Selma Dabbagh to support the writing of this novel.
Santa Maddalena Writers’ Retreat
In May 2014 Selma Dabbagh took up a fellowship to attend Santa Maddalena Writers’ Retreat outside Florence, where she finished the first draft of this novel.
Port Cetate, Retreat, Nr. Craiova, Romania
Introduced to this wonderful place by the Free Word Centre in London I completed a re-draft of this novel in August 2015.