Literary Palestine: Read Palestine

Palestine has been in the news for as long as anyone can remember. The latest episode returned the region and the issue to the fore. But while media coverage and academic scholarship on Palestine has been intermittent and determined by politics and ideology, as well as power balance at any given time, literary representation of Palestine by Palestinians has remained largely outside media and social science accounts of the region. Yet, literature remains one of the most significant and most relatable means of self-representation and exploration of shared local and global human dimensions of conflict and strife. Palestinian literature is perhaps the richest yet the least explored archive on Palestine.  It has been multilingual, diverse in mode and spans a long historical period.

Lydia Wright, Bodleian Librarian for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Mohamed-Salah Omri, Professor of Modern Arabic Literature at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St John’s College have teamed up to highlight this diversity in a dedicated display this month at the Bodleian Nizami Ganjavi Library. The display is an invitation to read Palestinian poetry, short stories, memoirs and novels in their original Arabic, English, and Hebrew, as well as in English translation.

The call to read follows a series of seminars lead by Professor Mohamed-Salah Omri in collaboration with Ziad Kiblawi, an Oxford DPhil student focusing on Arabic intellectual history. These seminars were designed to read and discuss Palestine through its literatures. The series aims to participate in an inclusive and democratic decolonial education, which does not exclude forms of coloniality and anti-colonial struggles based on considerations of racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds. They took place in hybrid mode and attracted hundreds of participants from a wide audience, which included university students, staff and the general public from around the world. Video recordings of the three seminars (Poetic Palestine, Gaza Writes, and Expressions of Exile) can be found on Professor Omri’s website. Together with the books proposed for reading by the library they aim to provide a window on how Palestinians represented their personal and collective history; expressed their hopes and reflected on their society in a diversity of styles, modes and languages.

The books on display are a mere selection from the relevant resources available at the library, which could serve as teaching support, research material and reading for pleasure.

Do drop-by the display at the NGL or browse the suggested readings below.

For further information, please contact: Mohamed-Salah Omri or Lydia Wright.

Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (1919-1994) (جبرا ابراهيم جبرا

Emile Shukri Habibi (1922-1996) (إميل حبيبي, אמיל חביבי)

Samira Azzam (1927-1967) (سميرة عزام

Taha Muhammad Ali (1931-2011) (طه محمد علي

Edward W. Said (1935-2003)

Ghassan Fayiz Kanafani (1936-1972) (غسان فايز كنفاني)

Sahar Khalifeh (1941-) (سحر خليفة

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) (مَحمُود دَرْوِيْش

Mourid Barghouti (1944-2021) (مريد البرغوثي

Elias Khoury (1948-) (إلياس خوري

Anton Shammas (1950-) (أنطون شماس, אנטון שמאס

Raja Shehadeh (1951-)

Suad Amiry (1951-) (سعاد العامري

Ghassan Zaqtan (1954-) (غسان زقطان

Selma Dabbagh (1970-) (سلمى الدباغ

  • Out of it. (Doha: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation; London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Suheir Hammad (1973-) (سهير حماد

Mosab Abu Toha (1993-)

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh


Visit from Brother Anthony of Taizé


On 4th May 2023, the NGL was delighted to welcome a very special guest: Brother Anthony of Taizé!

The Bodleian Libraries house many important Korean manuscripts and books brought back from Korea by missionaries since the end of the 19th century.  Brother Anthony suitably follows in the footsteps of Bishop Trollope and Monsignor Richard Rutt by donating his personal library to the Bodleian.

His visit started with viewing some important Korean manuscripts and books at the Weston Library.  He then gave a talk ‘Books and People: a Korean Cornucopia’ in the Window on Korea Room, Nizami Ganjavi Library, commenting on selected books and the personalities behind them.

The lecture was followed by drinks and 장구 Janggu, a Korean drum performance in the Chapel, Hertford College.

To learn more about Brother Anthony, his fascinating work, and his extraordinary life as a bridge between the UK and Korea, visit his person web page.