GU-Q scholar pens debut novel on complexity of Palestinian memory
Author and scholar Omar Khalifah (pictured), an associate professor of Arabic literature and culture at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), a QF partner, published his debut novel titled “The Sand Catcher”, which compels the reader to view the tragedy of Palestine through a new lens, and to consider the significance of having Palestinians tell their own stories.
Set in modern day Jordan and centered around a group of journalists hoping to interview an elderly Palestinian man about his experiences during the “Nakba”, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the devastation of Palestinian society in 1948, the novel takes a completely different path that surprises both the journalists and the man’s family.
A scholar in Arabic and world literature, cinema, and nationalism in the Arab world, Dr. Khalifah weaves together interlocking stories that touch on issues of memory, tragedy, and human connections, told through various perspectives and narrators. “Narratives are strewn through the story that raise questions about memory, tragedy and love, and present characters who question the meaning of Palestine for them. The novel is a mixture of tragedy and comedy, and an invitation to reflect on the relationship of the Palestinians to their past and present.”
Published by the Al-Ahliya Publishing House in Amman- Jordan, the novel is 200 pages long and has been issued in paperback edition.
Previous publications of Dr. Khalifah include a collection of Arabic short stories titled “As If I Were Myself” and an academic book in English titled “Nasser in the Egyptian Imaginary.” Dr. Khalifah received his Ph.D. from Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. At GU-Q, he teaches courses on Arabic literature, cinema, theater, as well as contemporary Arab culture.