Lena Khalaf Tuffaha Recommends...

The cascade of horrors we have all been witnessing for the past eight months of genocide in Palestine has made it difficult to write. I am most inspired when I spend time with works by fellow Palestinian writers and artists. There is an intimate correspondence among us, and perhaps the only comfort possible in this moment: that of a common grief and a shared refusal to be silent or silenced. I am inspired by us—dispersed across the world, under military occupation, sheltering from bombardments, in refugee camps, or in an alienating diaspora. We share a relentless hope that compels us to write, to gather and find each other. I imagine this is why I’ve favored anthology curation over the past few months.

Recently, I saw Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace’s stellar stage adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s novella Return to Haifa, for Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco. I have been spending a lot of time with Kanafani’s stories this year and I cannot recommend his work enough—the clarity of his vision inspires me. I am also inspired by the now-global student intifada, and the connections students have made between the decades-long struggle for Palestinian liberation and other global movements for freedom.

There is a breathtaking moment in Return to Haifa where Said, the father finally coming to terms with the magnitude of his loss, says: “We were mistaken when we thought the homeland was only the past.” The students inspire me because the beautiful community they have cultivated is born of that same recognition: Palestine is at the heart of the future.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, author of Something About Living
(University of Akron Press, 2024). 

Photo credit: Naseem Tuffaha