A special guest of this year’s edition of the Malta Book Festival, Kuwaiti poet, writer and academic Shahd Alshammari will be talking to Toni Aquilina in an event set up by Faraxa in collaboration with the National Book Council at the Activity Area (MCC) on Thursday 9th November, starting 18:00 hours. The talk will focus mainly on her latest publication, Notes on the Flesh, which was published last year by Faraxa.

Alshammari is a lecturer and a researcher in Literature, Disability and Women’s Studies at Gulf University, Kuwait. Her first publication On Love and Loss is a poetry collection that takes the reader through different moments in the poet’s life – each poem takes on the form of a quick glimpse into a moment that has shaped the author’s perception of human relationships. A sense of homelessness pervades the collection, adding a distinct tonality to the poet’s voice as she questions the social and personal boundaries within which human destinies play out.

Notes on the Flesh, her second publication, is a collection of short stories that explore the intricacies of identity, love and illness in the Middle East. The rift between tradition and modernity, so central to Arab literature and politics ever since al-Tahtawi’s famous visit to Paris in 1826, is critically evaluated by Alshammari in the light of adolescent love, familial sacrifices and intimacy. A common trait running through all the characters in the stories is a sense of defeat, or surrender to the patriarchal narratives that dominate much of the political, religious and social discourse in the Middle East. The implicit critique, then, takes the form of a resistant reading that sounds the consistency and credibility of those narratives precisely by granting the dominance they demand.

Towards the end of the event, Alshammari will be taking questions and comments from members of the audience. Later on in the evening, at 19:00 hours, the author will visit the Faraxa stands in order to meet readers and sign copies of her book, which will be on sale at the Faraxa stand.

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