As the Israel-Palestine war rages and the number of dead and injured continues to rise, two new books on Gaza and Palestine have been signed by British and US publishers.
Manchester-based Comma Press is to publish Dont Look Left: A Diary of Genocide by Atef Abu Saif, minister of culture for the Palestine Authority (PA) in the West Bank, and Simon & Schuster UK (S&S UK) has acquired A Short History of the Gaza Strip by University College London historian Anne Irfan.
Saifs book, which will be published next month (February), is a day-by-day account of life in Gaza from the perspective of a Palestinian caught in The Strip amid Israeli groundforce and airstrike bombardments.
Comma said: These diaries many of which were written as WhatsApp texts and voice-memos sent to his publisher in the UK follow a man who came to Gaza as a government minister and who was quickly reduced to running through the streets looking for shelter, like so many other Gazans, after the hotel he was staying in was bombed. The accounts cover everything from first-hand reports of shockingly graphic rescue efforts many involving close relatives or fellow journalists and writers to living in UN shelters in schools, to being displaced multiple times, struggling to find food and maintain contact with the outside world, to the decision to leave his father in the north for his own sons safety, as well as living for over a month in a tent, an impromptu refugee camp in UN Stores facility near Rafah.
Atef Abu Saif previously edited Commas Book of Gaza and is author of six novels. He is originally from Jabalia Camp, north of Gaza City, but moved to the West Bank in 2019 where he became the PA Minister of Culture. He was visiting Gaza in early October with his 15-year-old son Yasser.
Beacon Books will publish the North American edition, Blackie Books will publish in Spanish, Angústúra in Icelandic, Noura/Mizan Books in Indonesia, Chiheisha Publishing in Japanese and Società Informazione in Italian. All proceeds will go to four Palestinian charities: Medical Aid for Palestinians, the Middle East Childrens Alliance, Afaq Shadida/New Horizons Childrens Centre (Nusseirat Refugee Camp) and Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Khan Younis Emergency Relief).
At S&S UK, Editorial director for non-fiction Assallah Tahir acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Irfans history of the Gaza Strip from Emma Bal at Madeleine Milburn Agency, with US rights sold to Huneeya Siddiqui, assistant editor at W W Norton. S&S UK will publish in spring 2025.?
The publisher says: ?The Gaza Strip is one of the most politically significant and widely-reported-on parts of the world, but misunderstandings about this tiny piece of land and its history abound. Dr Irfans myth-busting book will chart the modern history of Gaza?through six key events, from the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 when Gaza was truncated to a strip that absorbed large numbers of Palestinian refugees to the rise of Hamas.
S&S adds that the book will bring to the forefront the people of Gaza [and] show how Gaza went from being a thriving port town that birthed poets, feminists and revolutionaries to a place known mostly for its poverty and as a battleground for war. In the process she will bring clarity to the current crisis, the geopolitics of the region and Western foreign policy.
Irfan is a lecturer in interdisciplinary race, gender and postcolonial studies at UCL and an expert on the modern history of Palestine. She said:?Having spent much of my academic career researching Palestinian history, I have long observed Gazas centrality to the regions politics, and the widespread misunderstandings about it.
The devastating events currently unfolding in the Strip make it more important than ever to shed light on its history and understand the
background to the current crisis.
Tahir commented: Annes proposal reminds me of the unique power of publishing to root events today in history. This will be an illuminating and necessary primer for anyone who wants the context to the current war.