Minor Detail

Finalist, National Book Awards 2020 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9780811229074
New Directions
Adania Shibli

Adania Shibli was born in Palestine in 1974, holds a PhD from the University of East London, and has published three novels in Arabic. She splits her time between Berlin and Jerusalem. More about this author >

Elisabeth Jaquette

Elisabeth Jaquette is a translator from the Arabic and the Executive Director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba—the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people—and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, and among their victims they capture a Palestinian teenager and they rape her, kill her, and bury her in the sand.

Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah tries to uncover some of the details surrounding this particular rape and murder, and becomes fascinated to the point of obsession, not only because of the nature of the crime, but because it was committed exactly twenty-five years to the day before she was born. Adania Shibli masterfully overlays these two translucent narratives of exactly the same length to evoke a present forever haunted by the past.

Judges Citation

Though it is nearly a novella in length, Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail has the ethical complexity of an epic. In a narrative that functions like two sides of a coin flipped high, its arc feels familiar but the outcome never certain. The compact nature of Minor Detail requires living up to its title. Everything must matter, and in Elisabeth Jaquette's deft translation does, including in the end those things that ultimately have no reason at all.