Video: BFF | best films forever, Music: Wirefoxterrier

Eine Nebensache

Adania Shibli │ Günther Orth

Eine Nebensache, Photo: Silke Briel / HKW

Jury’s comment

How can violence be written about without repeating it, trivializing it or pandering to it? Adanias Shibli’s book Eine Nebensache (Minor Detail) provides an answer: not by describing a horror, such as a rape in war, which is the subject here, but by omission, by blanks, by the detailed evocation of the circumstances, the topography, the weather, the surroundings of the active characters. Adania Shibli writes with a radical harshness and utter fearlessness. The emptiness that encompasses the violated girl at the center creates a pull for the reader into the abyss of this story. No kitsch, no misery porn, no melodrama, but a close look, an exact reconstruction, reduced in the literary means, sparse almost and of shattering intensity. An answer also to the question of what we talk about when we talk about war, and what task literature can possibly have in this. For example, to prevent cruelty from becoming a linguistic cliché. Where there is violence, reconciliation will not grow. Literature can only, but at least, do this: look closely and tell what happened.

– Verena Lueken

Adania Shibli, © Hartwig Klappert

Author: Adania Shibli

Adania Shibli writes novels, plays, short stories and essays. She is also active in academic research and teaching. The English translation of تفصيل ثانوي (Minor Detail) was nominated for the National Book Award in 2020 and the International Booker Prize in 2021. Shibli lives in Palestine and Germany.

Günther Orth, © Ramy Al Asheg

Translator: Günther Orth

Günther Orth studied Islamic culture and languages. Language scholarships took him to Egypt and Syria, followed by a translation degree for Arabic in Leipzig. He wrote his dissertation on the modern narrative literature of Syria and Yemen, where he lived in each case. Orth works as a translator and conference interpreter for Arabic.