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We Are All Equally Far from Love
Adania Shibli; translated from the Arabic by Paul Starkey

published 2012 • 5 1/2" x 7 3/4" • 148 pages
ISBN 9781566568630 • paperback • $15.00

“This novella is a challenging read; not because of Ms. Shibli’s sparing style of writing, which is strikingly different from the traditional Arabic style and quite riveting, but because of the intensely difficult insight it gives on the minutiae of the lives’ of others…We Are All Equally Far from Love is not a book to be picked up and put down…[it] demands to be read…”—New York Journal of Books


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A new award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of Touch

A young woman, asked at work to write a letter to an older man, does as she is told. So begins an enigmatic but passionate love affair conducted entirely in letters. A love affair? Maybe. Until his letters stop coming. Or… maybe the letters do not reach their intended recipient? Only the teenage Afaf, who works at the local post office, would know. Her favorite duty is to open the mail and inform her collaborator father of the contents—until she finds a mysterious set of love letters, apparently returned to their sender.

In the hands of Adania Shibli, the discovery of these letters makes for a wrenching meditation on lives lived ensnared within the dictates of others.

Adania Shibli, born in 1974 in Palestine, is two-time winner of the Qattan Foundation’s Young Writer’s Award for this and her acclaimed novel Touch.

Paul Starkey is head of the Arabic department at Durham University, England. He is the author of Modern Arabic Literature and a prolific translator.

Media Reviews

“Palestinian author Shibli’s poetic yet precise language and nimble characterizations… in this series of interrelated vignettes set in her native land… Shibli (Touch) writes beautifully.”—Publishers Weekly

Adania Shibli’s second book We Are All Equally Far From Love confirms her as a rare, challenging talent. It is neither an easy nor always a pleasant read, but it is an extraordinary piece of writing which weaves together melancholia, beauty, violence and brutish physicality in an extended meditation on love and loneliness…with its deft handling of beauty and humor alongside pain and isolation, its multi-colored tones and shifting moods, it becomes a dark, difficult, exhausting but ultimately cathartic exploration of the depths of the human psyche.”—Electronic Intifada

We Are All Equally Far From Lovewill confirm [Shibli’s] reputation as a formally brilliant literary artist, whose stylistic innovations and bold feel for language affirm contemporary fiction’s capacity to be reinvented anew…Sharply individualized and movingly convincing in their raw tenderness and candor, these varying perspectives are finely wrought to the level of poetry, yet retain the sense of issuing directly from the characters’ anguished subjectivity.”—Words Without Borders

Shibli’s newest book is less cryptic and decidedly more insistent, consisting of eight short stories whose plots initially seem linked but soon disconnect one from another—just as Shibli’s lovelorn characters break up or fail to connect…each story is a variation on a theme, the burden of which is the difficulty of finding and sustaining love…[Shibli] has done well to remind us that sometimes when love falters, we need look no further for the reason why than the nearest mirror.”—Rain Taxi

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