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Book Review - Shatila Stories

In 1949, Shatila was established in Lebanon as a refugee camp for Palestinians. In 1982, hundreds of its inhabitants were slaughtered by the right-wing Christian Phalange militia, allies of the Israeli Defence Forces. In recent years, Shatila has seen a huge influx of refugees from Syria.
It was a brave decision by Peirene Press to run a series of writing workshops in the camp in the hope of extracting stories that could be transformed into a novel. Editor Suhir Helal and publisher Meike Ziervogel were initially downcast by the inadequate facilities, power cuts and erratic timekeeping of the attendees and feared the project would never get off the ground. Against all odds, they coaxed 4000 words from each of their nine, inexperienced writers and Shatila Stories, an insightful piece of collaborative fiction, is the result.
Helal interweaves three principle storylines, and various offshoots, to create a chilling portrait of an overflowing refugee camp. Reham cannot forgive her husband Mar…