Category Archives: fiction

Haifa Fragments

In Haifa Fragments 

khulud khamis unpacks the multiple layers of culture, religion, sexuality, politics, feminism and nationalism in the hope of gathering the fragmented pieces of the past and reclaiming the lost contiguity of being Palestinian. – Samah Sabawi, Palestinian playwright and commentator

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Maisoon is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, raised as a Christian and in a relationship with a Muslim. Her boyfriend Ziyad wants the tradition-defying Maisoon to commit to their relationship. ‘…For Allah’s sake, Mais, what’s your problem? I want to marry you! I want us to be a real family.’

But the young jewellery designer is determined to find her own path with both Ziyad and her father constantly frustrated with her.  Her father, Majid dreams that his only daughter will become a doctor. To Layla his wife, he sighs: “Everything is wrong. Her quitting medical school…and…and…” ” She’s going out with a Muslim!”

Majid has his reasons and these and his carefully hidden past eventually become known to his wilful daughter. In the eyes of Maisoon, her father was the responsible bank clerk who worked overtime most days and always hoped he’d be promoted but wasn’t. He was the meek obedient citizen who knew that he didn’t belong:’Because his name was Majid’. He was of the generation ‘who never dared to raise their heads’- ‘those who grew up under military rule’. Majid wanted a better life for his daughter and disapproved of her working for the Yahudiyya (Jewish) boutique owner…’she could have done better’.

As Maisoon uncovers forgotten papers she is moved by what she learns of her father’s political past. The young Majid had been in love with a Muslim woman and taken part in the armed resistance, resulting in jailtime. He was also a poet.

Forgive me.

So today they finally got you. 

Last time we smoked nargila together you laughed. You said, 

They’ll never get you.

But they did.

You said, ” Who’s interested in a fighter whose weapon is the pencil?”

But they were.

 

‘Baba, the bank clerk? A poet? Could it be?’ This man, her father who was so angry about her own political activities. The same man who implored her to give up her peace activism: ‘It’s gone, our land is gone, and we are citizens of this state. You can’t bring back the past. It’s dead’.

khulud khamis, unpacks multiple layers in this intriguing novel. The layers are many and concern themselves with those of culture, religion, sexuality, politics, feminism and nationalism. Maisoon lives in a complex world: she is a feminist and peace activist who rails and acts against the gross injustices metered out to those who live in the occupied territories. And as a feminist she wants to live her own life, not the one that her father wants her to lead. She resists a permanent relationship with Ziyad as she explores her sexuality with Shahd. And as she comes to grips with her father’s secret life – a life formed of struggle involving culture, religion and nationalism, ‘the lost contiguity of being Palestinian’ is reclaimed.

Haifa Fragments is published by Spinifex Press

Release Date: March 8, 2015

 

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Seek revenge or turn the other cheek – It’s up to Mr Bates!

 

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I missed the episode of Downton Abbey when sweet Anna, maid to Lady Mary Crawley was brutally raped by a visiting valet called Mr Green. Audiences were understandably distressed and Downton fans accused the writers of using a sexual assault to ‘spice up’ the show.

But I suspect there’s much more to come now that Mr Bates, Anna’s husband knows about the rape and is plotting revenge.

Post the rape, Anna, hysterical and bleeding from deep cuts to her lips sought the solace of  Mrs Hughes, the head housekeeper. Anna feeling ‘unworthy’ of her husband, removed herself from their cottage, staying instead in the servants quarters. Bates doesn’t know what has befallen his young wife for Anna refuses his requests for information. But in the latest episode, an angry Mr Bates has managed to force Mrs Hughes into telling what has occurred.

After learning the truth, Bates confronts Anna and mercifully comforts his distraught wife, all the while imploring her to name the assailant. But Anna fears what will happen if her husband learns that it’s the valet, Mr Green. Bates has a troubled history; he was previously convicted of the murder of his first wife for which he spent some time in prison only to be exonerated, due to the diligence and devotion of Anna. He’s also been a soldier , so we know that he’s not a man to avoid conflict.

After Mrs Hughes delivers the grim details of Anna’s rape, Bates turns to the head housekeeper. And just as we fear, the wronged husband states his intentions, “Nothing’s over and done with.”

So what will happen next? Will Bates actually turn to murder this time? Why can’t he leave well alone. Why the revenge? Why can’t he be a good husband and care for the woman who was after all – the one harmed.

What is to be gained from Bates finding out who it was and and maybe getting killed himself, or worse murdering the rapist?

It occurs to me that this is very male behaviour. That another man should dare defile another’s woman – this I fear is the real crux of the matter. The woman is his possession!

But what is really needed is for Bates to support his young wife at her time of need. She may even be pregnant. One thing’s for sure, the next episodes of Downton Abbey are not for the faint- hearted.

 

 

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Female writers do it tough

 

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Literary editor of The Age, Jason Steger has written that while ‘female writers are still doing it tough’, data produced by Bookseller & Publisher shows the situation is improving – at least on Sundays with The Sunday Age percentage split between men and women 45-55 and the Sunday Territorian 50-50. Continue reading

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Book Review

 Fish-Hair Woman

  by Merlinda Bobis

In Fish–Hair Woman, Philippine Australian writer, Merlinda Bobis weaves a passionate story of love and loss, heroism and   suffering and the atrocities of war. Continue reading

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