Elias Khoury on the Eloquence of Silence - With Nora Parr
In October 2018 renowned Lebanese writer and public intellectual Elias Khoury joined Nora Parr at SOAS for the English-language launch of his latest novel Children of the Ghetto: My Name is Adam.
The novel is about the politics of telling and hearing, seeing and blindness, truth and the possibility of finding it. It is about the impossibility of linear stories, the problems of history,the power of fiction, and the many many registers of silence.
Translated as ‘eloquent silence,’ in Humphrey Davies’ beautiful English rendering, the silences of the work are not the same as the phrase coined by Susan Sontag in her 1969 essays. They are also not the 'necessary' silences that have come to dominate Holocaust literature – which has become the dominant frame of telling stories of violence and trauma.
In this podcast, Khoury explains what he means by the ‘eloquence of silence, balagat al-sumt’. Balaga, or rhetoric, might explain further. The eloquence of silence represented in the work explains the many ways silence can persuade, can communicate something essential. Khoury’s book teaches its reader to hear
what is not said, and learn volumes from it.
Read more about the book here.