Shatila Stories


Most novels are written by professional writers using second hand material. Not this one. Peirene commissioned nine refugees to tell their ‘Shatila Stories’. The result is a piece of collaborative fiction unlike any other.

Adam and his family flee Syria and arrive at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Conditions in this overcrowded Palestinian camp are tough, and violence defines many of the relationships: a father fights to save his daughter, a gang leader plots to expand his influence, and drugs break up a family. Adam struggles to make sense of his refugee experience, but then he meets Shatha and starts to view the camp through her eyes.

Longlisted for the EBRD Literature Prize 2019

Written by nine Syrian and Palestinian refugee writers. Their names are: Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal AlAlow, Safa Khaled Algharbawi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud, Hiba Mareb.

Translated from the Arabic by Nashwa Gowanlock.

150pp, paperback with flaps, £12.00
ISBN 978-1-908670-48-9
Publication date: 18 June 2018

Press & Reviews

'This remarkable novel isn’t about the refugee voice; it is born from it and told through it. On every page, the glint of hope for dignity and a better life is heartbreakingly alive.' Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

'a triumph of collaborative, creative storytelling...the chapters are so painfully and astutely written ‘from inside’, the lives, loves and losses so authentic and unfabricated, that you are in deep mourning by the end – because this exquisite novel is over' Rosie Goldsmith, EBRD Prize Jury

'Shatila Stories offers a template for encouraging writers from other backgrounds ... its unique, collaborative approach gives authentic voice to these refugees and their lives.' The Economist

'Shatila Stories is a brutally honest account of life in the refugee camp. It isn't always easy to read, and is all the more necessary for it.' Lucy Popescu, TLS

'As an enjoyable read, as literature, and as a work of witness, Shatila Stories is a resounding success.' Melissa Harrison, The Guardian

'What I see is the power of voices coming together...this is not a charity read, this is a book that you would pick up to understand more...its very compelling.' Nilanjana Roy, BBC World Service

'Shatila Stories breaks through the natural detachment we feel seeing images of families in boats or dressed differently. For many of us this is where we feel comfortable ... perhaps pushing past and feeling uncomfortable is where we ought to be.' Ruchira Sharma, iNews

'Both from a humanitarian standpoint and an artistic perspective, Peirene are doing invaluable work in finding new voices who open our eyes, ears and hearts to worldly reality in all its profound suffering, joy, community, isolation and complexity.' Bidisha, Writer and Broadcaster

About The Book


Nashwa Gowanlock is a British Egyptian writer, journalist and translator of Arabic literature. She is the co-translator with Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp of The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria by Samar Yazbek. Her translation of Abdelrashid Mahmoudi’s novel After Coffee is published by HBKU Press.