Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

A novel born of extraordinary circumstance, “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

CHICAGO: A novel born of extraordinary circumstance, “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction written by nine refugees from the Shatila camp in Beirut that was commissioned by Peirene Press. The authors, ranging from the ages of 20 to 43, captivate the reader by painting a picture of muddied walkways, crumbling walls and desperate faces. From beginning to end, the phenomenal words of Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal Alalo, Safa Khaled Algharbaqi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud and Hiba Mareb take the reader on a powerful journey.
“Shatila Stories” begins with the character of Reham, who is leaving Damascus for Beirut. She and her family look to Shatila as a refuge from the strife at the Yarmouk camp in Syria. Reham’s story is embedded in spirituality and faith, a strength that drives many of the book’s characters through hopeful and harsh times. After Reham, the reader is told the story of Jafra, named after the revolutionary Palestinian fighter who was killed in an airstrike in 1976. Somehow, their destinies are one and the same as they sacrifice themselves for the greater struggle.
Evil lurks within the boundaries of the Shatila camp, where one’s wages can mean the difference between life and death. The dangers are real — children are exploited, disease is rampant and the methods used to safeguard residents are sometimes more harmful than helpful.
The writers have done a brilliant job of conveying the constricted yet vibrant lives led by many in the camp, as they wander alleyways that are “narrow yet wide enough to hold a thousand stories.”
The effort to publish nine refugee writers began with Mieke Ziervogel, publisher of Peirene Press, who journeyed from London to Beirut with editor Suhir Helal after getting in contact with an NGO that runs a community center in the camp. After handpicking the writers during a three-day workshop, the manuscripts were received and translator Nasha Gowanlock got to work. It was a Herculean effort that reminds us that storytelling may be an art, but everyone has a story to tell.


What We Are Reading Today: Optimal Transport Methods in Economics

Updated 19 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Optimal Transport Methods in Economics

Optimal Transport Methods in Economics is the first textbook on the subject written especially for students and researchers in economics.
Optimal transport theory is used widely to solve problems in mathematics and some areas of the sciences, but it can also be used to understand a range of problems in applied economics, such as the matching between job seekers and jobs, the determinants of real estate prices, and the formation of matrimonial unions.
This is the first text to develop clear applications of optimal transport to economic modeling, statistics, and econometrics, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. It covers the basic results of the theory as well as their relations to linear programming, network flow problems, convex analysis, and computational geometry.
Applications include discrete choice models, models of differential demand, and quantile-based statistical estimation methods, as well as asset pricing models.
Authoritative and accessible, Optimal Transport Methods in Economics also features numerous exercises throughout that help you develop your mathematical agility, deepen your computational skills, and strengthen your economic intuition.