This post is part two of an interview with Dixiane Hallaj, an author from my writer’s group. It continues our discussion of her two books, Born a Refugee and Refugee Without Refuge. If you missed part one click on the title on the left that tells you the last post and it will wiz you through cyberspace to the post. This is an interview too good to miss. I broke it up into two parts so we could get all the information about this talented author, and not miss out due to brevity. The information that Dixie tells about is not to be confused with all that is going on in the Arab world today. This has to do with Israel and the West Bank. There are no peace talks and that is an ominous sign for Israel and Palestine
because it means the struggle for refugees is going to go on for many more years.
3–Tell us about your dissertation. How much of your dissertation is in the first book Born a Refugee?And the second Refugee Without Refuge?
My dissertation deals with women’s illiteracy in the refugee camps. It brings out the facts that getting an education while living under the harsh conditions of military occupation is not always possible. Violence often truncates education, either because the child is afraid to go to school or the parents are afraid to send the child to school. The harsh conditions can also lead to young people becoming politicized and seeing education as less important than trying to gain freedom. Even though schools are free, the school supplies and uniforms are beyond the reach of some families. Boys of high school age and above are often anxious to relieve the financial burdens on their families and insist on leaving school to work.
While I was in Palestine I taught at Birzeit University and witnessed many of the hardships faced by Palestinian students. It was often difficult to get to class due to road closures, checkpoints, or curfews imposed by the occupying forces. At times the University was shut down for days, weeks, or even months as one form of collective punishment. Students who managed to graduate in spite of all of these problems, were faced with very limited employment opportunities due to the dismal economic situation,
All of these problems are mentioned in my novels. The different priorities concerning education often form a conflict within the families in the stories, but it is the family situation rather than the educational issues that is the focus of the story.
4–You self published these books. Can you tell us why you didn’t’ go the traditional route of getting an agent or submitting to publishers?
I spent more than a year sending inquiries and getting very encouraging personalized letters of rejection. After more than one agent offered to read other works I might submit, I realized what most authors who write from a Palestinian perspective learn—agents and publishers rarely accept books that portray Israel as an aggressor.
Both books are available from Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions. Refugee Without Refuge is also available in a Large Print edition.
More information can be found on my website www.hallajs.com along with short descriptions of my other publications, including the works in progress.
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