A Map of Absence

A Map of Absence

An Anthology of Palestinian Writing on the Nakba

Edited by

N/A May 2019 Paperback 272pp

About the Book

‘A powerful and unique collection. It articulates in beautiful prose Palestinians’ trauma but also their resilience in the face of the ongoing Nakba.’ Lowkey 

A Map of Absence presents the finest poetry and prose by Palestinian writers over the last seventy years. Featuring writers in the diaspora and those living under occupation, these striking entries pay testament to one of the most pivotal events in modern history – the 1948 Nakba.

This unique, landmark anthology includes translated excerpts of works by major authors such as Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani and Fadwa Tuqan alongside those of emerging writers, published here in English for the first time. Depicting the varied aspects of Palestinian life both before and after 1948, their writings highlight the ongoing resonances of the Nakba.

An intimate companion for all lovers of world literature, A Map of Absence reveals the depth and breadth of Palestinian writing.

About the Contributors

Atef Alshaer is a lecturer in Arabic Studies at the University of Westminster. He was educated at Birzeit University in Palestine and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he obtained his PhD and taught for a number of years. He is the author of several publications in the fields of language, literature and politics, including Poetry and Politics in the Modern Arab World, The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication (with Dina Matar and Lina Khatib), Love and Poetry in the Middle East (editor) and Language and National Identity in Palestine: Representations of Power and Resistance in Gaza, both forthcoming. Alshaer regularly contributes to academic and media outlets, including the BBC, Independent, I-Newspaper, Electronic Intifada and Radio Monocle.


‘This collection sings of more than just suffering – remembrance and beauty, too.’
Fatima Bhutto

‘In this crucial anthology, Palestine’s greatest classic and contemporary writers use the poetry and rigour of their words to delineate both the trauma of the past and the continuities of exile, oppression and resistance.’
Molly Crabapple

‘An essential collection of vital voices ... Palestinian literature and thought are defiantly alive and pushing boundaries in fiction, poetry, memoir and reportage.’

‘This anthology brilliantly brings together seminal writings on the Nakba. It will be of interest to students of literature as well as those wishing to learn about Palestine for a long time to come.’
Yasir Suleiman, University of Cambridge and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

‘A Map of Absence is a remarkable collection of some of the finest examples of [Palestinian] literature ... It is the details hidden in each piece of writing - occasionally hopeful, often heartbreaking - that lend this collection its personality.’
The National

A Map of Absence is a tribute to the power and elegance of the Arabic language and to the sensitivity of the editor. Some of the contributors write in English but most are beautifully translated from the original Arabic. Above all, the book is a reminder of the suffering and bravery of many of today’s refugees in their fight to find a new identity and deal with the fact that they can never forget their home, their land and the identity they have lost.’
7D News

‘Throughout this book, it is the human experience that stands out, elsewhere discarded to make space for the politics that have disrupted and ruptured Palestinian lives.’
Middle East Monitor

‘A collection that at its heart recaptures absence, loss and Palestinian history through memory and testimonies about this defining act of the 20th century, the Nakba.’