“Alareer says that he chose fiction as the format for the book because fictional stories have a timeless and universal appeal.
“Fiction narrates the human element more than news ‘stories’. Fictional stories can put names to the statistics of reported casualties. While articles are important to convey the story of the day, they fade into history with the passing of time and no one remembers what happened then.”
“The idea for the book came after what Alareer calls “the 23 days of continuous killing and misinformation” of Operation Cast Lead, a military offensive launched in the Gaza Strip by the Israelis between Dec 27, 2008, and Jan 18, 2009.
After completing his MAA in Comparative Literature in London, Alareer had returned to Gaza, his birthplace, in 2007 to teach creative writing. He says he will never forget the day Operation Cast Lead began, when airplanes began the attack.
“Attacks blazed through homes and killed civilians, tanks destroyed entire villages. Everything that moved was shot at, and it made you realise that there isn’t such a thing as being in the right o wrong place or right or wrong time, because anyone could be a target.
“And 23 days later, when we could finally emerge from our homes, those of us whose homes were still standing, that was when it dawned on me, the extent of destruction and suffering and the number of casualties.”
When some semblance of normality eventually returned, Alareer returned to teaching his creative writing course. While he used mostly works by Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, he also included Palestinian fiction whenever he could. And that’s when the idea to gather stories formed.”