Born in Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Damascus, in 1984 and “returned” to Gaza Strip at the age of 11, author, journalist and women’s rights activist Nayrouz Qarmout is one of the most dynamic, politicized and talented contemporary Palestinian voices.
Her first trip abroad -after multiple UK visa rejections- ever since moving to Gaza Strip and participation in last year’s edition of the highly acclaimed Edinburgh International Book Festival justifiably generated considerable interest in her work.
It also served as a painful reminder of the plight of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation, as well as of their persistence to continue the struggle for existence and self-determination.
The long-awaited The Sea Cloak, her first collection of short stories due for release on August 22nd by Comma Press, features 11 stories, 10 of which previously unpublished, with the exception of the self-titled one, included in The Book of Gaza.
All of them provide a profound and multidimensional insight into the contemporary Palestinian society, in particular that of Gaza Strip, mostly -but not exclusively- from a female perspective focusing on women of different ages.
The elegiac, emotional, at times even humorous eponymous story sets the tone, displaying remarkable stylistic maturity and a sense of narrative economy uncommon for a debut author.
What is even more remarkable is that Nayrouz Qarmout dares to tackle controversial, complex and delicate issues, such as the fighting between Palestinian political factions (14 June) and the mentality of a suicide bomber (Our Milk).
The Sea Cloak undoubtedly proves for yet another time that the short story form is alive and well among Palestinians of different ages and should reach out to wider audiences on a worldwide level.
The author has been invited to participate in this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday 12th of August (more info may be found here, here and here).
Hopefully she won’t have to experience a similar ordeal to the one inflicted on her in 2018 before reaching her destination.