The 2021 title for Librarians and Archivists with Palestine’s international reading campaign, One Book, Many Communities was Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, translated from the original Arabic by Elisabeth Jacquette. Published in English in 2020, Minor Detail has been longlisted as a 2021 International Booker Prize Finalist for the National Book Award.
The story is divided into two parts, with a different setting and narrator for each half. The first half takes place in 1949, a year after the Nakba. Israeli soldiers capture, rape, and kill a Bedouin girl, burying her in the desert. Many years later, the second half of the novel is told from the perspective of a young Palestinian woman in Ramallah. She becomes fixated on the story of the Bedouin girl and is determined to learn more about the case, no matter the risks involved.
Content note: Minor Detail contains mentions and depictions of sexual violence, including sexual violence perpetrated against a person who is likely underage.
One Book 2021 Events
- July 15, 2021, 6:00 pm (CEST): Villa Aldini, Bologna, Italy.
- July 18, 2021, 12:00 pm (EDT): Conversation with writers Susan Muaddi Darraj and Sahar Mustafah at the Palestine Museum, Woodbridge, Connecticut, USA.
- July 21, 2021, Brooklyn, New York, USA (private event).
- July 28, 2021, Leeds, United Kingdom, 7:30 pm (BST): Hosted by the Leeds Lit Club.
- August 12, 2021, 6:00 pm (EDT): Digital event in collaboration with the Independent Jewish Voices Canada campaign to #StopJNFCanada.
- August 19, 2021, 6:00 pm (CDT), Woodland Pattern Book Center (in-person and virtual options), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
- August 23, 2021, 6:00 pm (EDT): Digital book discussion event in collaboration with Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
- September 24, 2021, 5-6 pm (CEST): Valvassori Peroni Library, Milan, Italy.
- September 30, 2021, 8-9pm (EDT): Librarians and Archivists with Palestine Archives Working Group. Book discussion focused on archival issues.
PLAN YOUR EVENT
How to host a book discussion group during a pandemic– Librarians and Archivists with Palestine launched One Book, Many Communities in 2015 and in-person book discussions have been the center of our campaign every year. The sixth One Book initiative will take place during a global pandemic for the second time this year. Many of us have become accustomed to connecting from a distance.
While many parts of the world are recovering, we urge all of our volunteers to plan with COVID-19 safety in mind. Remote events are still a necessity for many of us, plus if you host a remote event, people can attend from anywhere! Read on for tips to host your own virtual book discussion group and see our resource guide (PDF) for additional information and suggested further readings.
Choose a platform. There are a lot of digital platforms out there to host meetings. Zoom has become particularly popular, but you can also use Skype, Google Meet and Discord, among others. Be aware that there are some privacy issues with online conferencing. Try out the platform before your event and get accustomed to the interface.
Pick a date in July or August 2021. If these months prove impossible and you need to schedule your group at a different time, that’s okay, too.
Choose a facilitator/leader for the discussion. Find someone who’s excited to read and help generate conversation around the book.
Plan the format. Depending on the size and nature of your event, this could be an informal conversation or a structured discussion around particular questions.
Tell LAP about your event. We will list it and link to it on our own site and Facebook page. We’d still like to know where in the world you are and if you’re uniting people from your town, club, or other group.
Brainstorm how to incorporate participants. Do you already have an idea of who you want to invite? Do you want people to sign up in advance? Make sure you get correct contact information like email addresses so you can send meeting links or invites.
Consider your audience. Minor Detail contains mentions and depictions of sexual violence, including sexual violence perpetrated against a person who is likely underage. Think about who you’re inviting and how they can engage with the material in a safe and healthy way.
Consider your platform to ensure you understand logistics. What is the maximum number of devices allowed in a meeting? Is there a time limit? Do you know how to manage the interface? Keep in mind that all participants should be able to contribute and may not know how to use your platform of choice.
Get more ideas here (note that some of articles are about in-person events, but tips may be transferable):
- 10 Tips for Hosting a Digital Book Club (Bustle)
- Reading in a time of crisis (or, 10 ways to run a virtual book club) (LinkedIn)
- ALA: Book Discussion Groups + One Book, One Community resource page
- Beyond the Book (UK site)
- One Book, One College: Common Reading Programs (Barbara Fister)
- Tips from the Seattle Public Library
PROMOTE YOUR EVENT
If your event is open to the public, publicize it:
- Create a Facebook group and/or event page. Email us the link so we can post a link on our main Facebook page.
- Tweet and Instagram using the hashtag #lap1book. If you tag us (@Librarians2Pal), we will retweet!
Let participants know where they can obtain the book:
- Minor Detail is available from many public libraries. Please be understanding of your local library during the pandemic and look out for ebook and eaudiobook editions. Copies can also be purchased from the publisher, New Directions, Bookshop.org, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers. Let us know if you have any questions about acquiring the book.
- If you’d prefer an ebook, the novel is available digitally from Barnes & Noble.
- The original Arabic version of Minor Detail can be found in much of the Arabic-speaking world.
- Let us know if you have any questions about acquiring the book.
HOLD YOUR EVENT
Document it. Take a photo of yourself with the book, or (with participants’ permission) a screenshot of the online meeting. Record any presentations. Live tweet the discussion! Remember to use the hashtag #lap1book. Let us know if you and your participants agree to share the discussion publicly.
Share tips for leading a great book discussion with your facilitator:
(several of these are adapted from the ALA Book Discussion Groups page)
- If possible, communicate with co-participants in advance about your wishes and goals for the group. What would you and they like to get out of the experience? This could help you structure your meetings and build in time for breaks, media viewing, etc.
- If you have time, consider collectively brainstorming questions about the book before the first meeting. This will give all participants a chance to help shape the discussion.
- Talk about your experiences of reading the book. Explore how the book made you feel, and the emotions, themes, and questions it brought up.
- Talk about any preconceptions you had before reading the book that changed after you read it. How did this book transform your attitudes and perceptions? What did you learn from it that you didn’t know before?
- Pick a passage that strikes you as interesting, moving, and/or thought-provoking. Read it aloud to the group. Discuss.
- Use secondary sources, such as articles, film, or images. See our resource guide (PDF) for ideas to place the novel in new contexts.
- If you could ask the author a question about the book, what would it be?
Ask one or more of these questions that LAP designed specifically about Minor Detail:
- The narrators of both the first and second half of the novel fixate on cleanliness. What do you think that symbolizes and how is this theme different between the narrators?
- How is the control and demarcation of land portrayed in each half of the novel?
- There are dogs present in both halves of the novel, but they show up differently. What does the narrative of the dog represent?
- What does the latter half of the story tell us about how historical records are kept and how access is controlled?
- How does access to information influence how we talk about Palestine in the present day?
Share additional resources with participants. You can use our resource guide (PDF) for Minor Detail for additional information and suggested further readings.