Section: Arts

Palestinian writer Amiry discusses life in the West Bank

Palestinian writer Amiry discusses life in the West Bank

by Bailey Blaker

Political activist, architect and writer Suad Amiry discussed the plight many Palestinians are currently facing during her lecture in the Community Foundation Theater on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

The event was organized by Kenyon Students for Justice in Palestine (KSJP) as part of their efforts to increase student engagement on campus.

KSJP member Qossay Alsattari ’16 has been a fan of Amiry since watching “a TED Talk that really inspired me and a group of my friends when we were in junior year of high school,” Alsattari, who is from Palestine, said. “I’ve always wanted to meet Suad, and once I got to Kenyon, I wanted to bring her to campus.”

Alsattari met with fellow KSJP member Megan Carr ’18 over the summer to attend a reading by Amiry in the Washington, D.C. bookstore Busboys and Poets. “I had really good expectations that people would just instantly like her and instantly appreciate her and absolutely just see her as being purely human and good,” Carr said.

Before becoming an author, Amiry worked as an architect and founded Riwaq Center of Architectural Conservation in her home city of Ramallah, Palestine.

Amiry began her writing career by happenstance. In 2002, during a 42-day Israeli occupation of Ramallah, Amiry found herself living with her then-92-year-old mother-in-law. “For me she was also a symbol of the Palestinian people in being resilient,” Amiry said.

She affectionately described living with her mother-in-law as the “second occupation.” During this time, Amiry began to write humorous emails to her friends overseas about her experiences. After one of those friends showed her work to a publisher, Amiry’s first book Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, became an international hit. The book was translated into several languages including Italian, English and Hebrew.

The lecture Tuesday evening focused on her latest book, Golda Slept Here, which tells the story of several Palestinians who were evicted from their homes because of the recent upheaval of the city. “I think a lot of humanity’s problems comes from the fear of the other,” Amiry said.

Her work as a writer has allowed Amiry to travel the world and speak about her experiences as a Palestinian. “I always say I wrote a book that changed my life,” she said. The book in question, Nothing To Lose But Your Life, chronicles the 18-hour journey Amiry made with a group of Palestinian workers from her home in Ramallah to a city near Jeruselem. Amiry made the journey to see the struggle men in her village experienced firsthand. Dressed as a man, Amiry walked trails, dodged bullets and traded stories with the workers as they trekked to an Israeli city in search of jobs.

For Amiry, literature, music and film are essential to understanding other people. She uses her influence as an author to affect the conversation about the world of the Palestinain people. “When I hear music, or when I read a book,” she said, “I don’t think of religion, I don’t think of nationality, I don’t think of color.”


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