South African Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee at this year’s Palestine Festival of Literature
20 May 2016
South African Nobel laureate and novelist, JM Coetzee, will be one of the high profile guests at this year’s upcoming Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest).
PalFest (21- 26 May) is held annually where international literary stars perform and participate at public events across Palestinian cities including Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa and Nablus. Coetzee will be joined by other literary giants including Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami and National Book Award winners Colum McCann and Barry Lopez. Click here for the complete list of participants for PalFest 2016.
PalFest is a traveling festival, since Palestinians’ freedom of movement is so restricted by Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. By day, the international participants take politico-historical tours and meet with local Palestinian artists, authors and activists. By night, they stage free, public readings with their Palestinian counterparts. PalFest has been dubbed “the Iron Man of literary festivals” because it is one of “the most physically and psychologically challenging festival in the literary world," crossing Israeli checkpoints, military roadblocks and other Israeli occupation hurdles.
PalFest Producer, Omar Robert Hamilton, says “while PalFest manages to travel hundreds of miles to its audiences over the festival week there is one place we still can’t get to: Gaza. The impenetrable [Israeli] siege means audiences can’t leave to attend festival events nor can the festival travel to them.”
Over its nine years, PalFest has hosted in Palestine over 180 authors and industry professionals from a dozen countries and helps in promoting Palestine’s vibrant literary talent around the world. Past participants of PalFest include renowned novelist and essayist Teju Cole; best-selling author China Miéville; Orwell-prize winning author Raja Shehadeh; author Richard Ford; artist and author, Molly Crabapple. Based on PalFest press statement, click here
In 2012, Israel's Ha'aretz Newspaper reported that Coetzee refused to attend the "Israeli Writers Festival" saying that he would only go to Israel "when the peace process goes forward."
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