#FreePalestine: This Makati bookstore stocks Palestinian titles to shed light on genocide

Juno Reyes

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#FreePalestine: This Makati bookstore stocks Palestinian titles to shed light on genocide
Small press Everything’s Fine has taken to ensuring that Filipinos are kept informed about the Palestinian struggle in the way it knows best: literature

MANILA, Philippines – As of March 29, at least 32,623 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since October 7, 2023. There are 75,092 who have been injured, while over 8,000 people remain missing. In the Occupied West Bank, 454 have been killed, while more than 4,750 have been injured. 

One thing is clear: what the Palestinians are facing is a blatant genocide actively being committed by Israel. But this genocide did not start on October 7, 2023. For decades, Israel has been attempting to push Palestinians out from the very land they call home. 

For Everything’s Fine, a small press in Makati, it is imperative for Filipinos to know about the ongoing genocide and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

“It is important to realize that this act of genocide against one nation, one people, is something that is very close to our own history as colonized. First of Spain, and then of the United States. It is important for us to see that the time when one country holds so much power that it can decide to take over another nation has no place in this present,” Everything’s Fine co-owner Katrina Stuart Santiago told Rappler. 

And so, Everything’s Fine has taken to ensuring that Filipinos are kept informed about the Palestinian struggle in the way it knows best: literature.

The ‘Free Palestine’ shelf

When you browse the shelves of Everything’s Fine, one such area sticks out: a corner lined with books written by Palestinian authors. Everything’s Fine currently consistently stocks three titles: You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat, Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa, and The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan. 

All these captivating fiction novels offer an expansive look into the different realities Palestinians continue to grapple with: grief, a struggle to find their identities, political imprisonment, displacement, and even grave abuses like rape. 

The first mainstay on Everything’s Fine’s Free Palestine shelf is You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat. It’s a coming-of-age fiction novel that follows a queer Palestinian-American girl’s struggle with love addiction and navigating the different contexts that shape her identity: her culture, her religion, her childhood, her parents, and her desire for love. 

Meanwhile, Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa – another regular on Everything’s Fine’s shelves – sees its protagonist Nahr contend with becoming a political prisoner in Palestine in the wake of the Israeli occupation. 

The last regular title is The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan, a historical fiction novel that charts a family’s return to Beirut, Lebanon when their father dies. The family’s fight to save their ancestral home while grieving their father’s death takes place against the backdrop of a war-torn country marred with the displacement of people, along with political and religious unrest.

Santiago says that while these are the novels they regularly restock, Everything’s Fine tries its best to add onto the current roster when more titles become available. 

Whenever possible, Everything’s Fine also tries to stock Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, a two-part fiction novel that recounts the true story of a Palestinian-Arab woman getting gang-raped by Israeli soliders, and a modern Palestinian woman’s commitment to investigating the incident years later. 

“We started stocking these books early into this phase of Israel’s genocide of Palestinians. I call this a phase to highlight that this is but part of the project to completely displace Palestinians from their land, and reduce their identity, culture, humanity, self-determination to nothingness,” Santiago shared. 

“It is abhorrent that a genocide can happen before our eyes at this point in time, and that a country like Israel – and all those that enable it – could so justify this and claim these actions as normal. Genocide is not normal. It is not rational or just or humane to respond to one terror act from a specific terrorist group by bombing homes, destroying communities, and murdering innocents,” she added. 

Continuing to speak about the genocide in Palestine

Everything’s Fine is a member of Publishers for Palestine, a group of over 400 publishers across the globe, all standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and pushing for their liberation.

With the regular replenishment of their Free Palestine shelf, Santiago hopes to nurture Everything’s Fine into a safe space for people to continue talking about the genocide in Palestine. 

Santiago told Rappler that the bookstore would even love to explore the idea of hosting book clubs, informal groups, and students to discuss the titles on the Free Palestine shelf, and even organizing solidarity projects for Palestine right there in their shop. 

“Our smallness – both as a press and as a bookshop and gallery – allows us a certain kind of freedom that we navigate thoughtfully and deliberately. I think that solidarity with Palestine starts with having the words to speak of this as a genocide. Do not mince words, and do not use pretty words to cover up what is happening,” Santiago said. 

After all, words hold power. 

“One of the many ways in which we can stand in solidarity with Palestine is to have the words to talk about this genocide, and to never stop talking about it. The state of the nation and the world overwhelm us with multiple crises, but this genocide that has unfolded right before our eyes, with no signs of ending despite global protests and public anger is the worst display of power, arrogance, and wealth, and how it can and will kill when it wants to,” she added. –

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