2021: Minor Detail

The 2021 title for Librarians and Archivists with Palestine’s international reading campaign, One Book, Many Communities is 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 cover of Minor Detail shows the blurry image of a woman's face and behind her, as if through a ripped page, is a desert landscape.

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. 

This project draws inspiration from the “one book, one town” idea, wherein people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book. Librarians and Archivists with Palestine invites readers, librarians, and others to organize gatherings to discuss Minor Detail by Adania Shibli. This campaign is designed to introduce readers to the richness of Palestinian literature, and create a broader awareness and understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination.

Please join us! The campaign is still running despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are encouraging volunteers to host book discussions digitally. While many regions are recovering from the pandemic, make sure you consider venue and vaccination status if you decide to host a discussion event in person. See our 2021 toolkit and resource guide for tips on hosting your event. If you schedule your event for July or August 2021, you’ll be connected to readers across the globe who will be reading and discussing the book at the same time. Use your imagination! And let us know what you’re planning!

Librarians and Archivists with Palestine is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. The hashtag for the campaign is: #lap1book.

Content note: Minor Detail contains mentions and depictions of sexual violence, including sexual violence perpetrated against a person who is likely underage. Make sure this is communicated to your event attendees.

Acquiring 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.

Previous One Book, Many Communities events:

2020: The Book of Disappearance by Ibtisam Azem. Set in modern-day Jaffa and the greater Tel Aviv area, the story follows Alaa, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and his friend Ariel, a Jewish Israeli. After Alaa disappears, Ariel finds Alaa’s journals and Alaa’s family memories create a dialogue with Ariel as the crisis of the mass disappearance unfolds.

2018: Code Name: Butterfly by Ahlam Bsharat. This coming-of-age novel portrays life under occupation from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl. Butterfly and her peers have conventional teenage challenges like love and jealousy, but they also contend with fears and struggles most adults will never have to experience.

2017: “Returning to Haifa by Ghassan Kanafani as found in the short story collection Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories. Kanafani tells the story of a couple that was forced to flee Haifa in 1948 and is returning for the first time in 20 years. Their feelings of displacement are accompanied by grief for the son they had to leave behind.

2016: Sharon and My Mother-in-Law by Suad Amiry. Suad Amiry writes with humor and insight about the realities of life under occupation. From falling in love across borders to dealing with deliberately inscrutable Israeli policies, Amiry’s “Ramallah Diaries” will have you laughing and crying in the same breath. 

2015: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. Mornings in Jenin is a sweeping, heart-wrenching historical saga about four generations of the Abulheja family. From Jenin to Jerusalem to Beirut to Philadelphia, the novel follows the family from its displacement from Ein Hod village in 1948 through love and loss over decades of life in Palestine and the diaspora.