Wed, 24 February 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT

How to Bring About Peace in a World of Conflict

Colum McCann, Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin in conversation with Belle Donati

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Divided by conflict, united by grief: Israeli Rami Elhanan and Palestinian Bassam Aramin were brought together by the loss of their daughters. Novelist Colum McCann told their story.

Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin live near one another – yet they exist worlds apart. Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half.

Both men have lost their daughters. Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. There was a candy bracelet in her pocket she hadn’t had time to eat yet.

The men become the best of friends.

Novelist Colum McCann told their story in his epic and daring novel Apeirogon. One of 2020’s most celebrated books in any form or genre, Apeirogon has been described as ‘Absolutely staggering’ (Elizabeth Strout), ‘Spectacular’ (Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times), ‘A tour de force’ (i) and ‘A work of incredible magnitude’ (Assaf Gavron).

Now he, Bassam and Rami join us for an unforgettable livestream In Conversation event.

Praise for Colum McCann’s Apeirogon:

Apeirogon is ambitious formally and thematically, taking on the Israel Palestine conflict in a work that is both spectacularly inventive and grounded in brutal fact. It is about grief and forgiveness, about family and politics. If you can read it without sobbing, you’re a monster.’ Observer

‘A quite extraordinary novel. Colum McCann has found the form and voice to tell the most complex of stories, with an unexpected friendship between two men at its powerfully beating heart.’ Kamila Shamsie

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PRIX MÉDICIS AND THE PRIX FEMINA

WINNER OF THE PRIX DE MEILLEUR LIVRE ETRANGER

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A BBC BOOK OF 2020

CHOSEN AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, i PAPER, FINANCIAL TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, SCOTSMAN, IRISH TIMES, BBC.COM, WATERSTONES.COM

The novel of a lifetime about two men and their daughters: divided by conflict, yet united in grief.

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Colum McCann

Award-winning Novelist

Colum McCann is the author of seven novels and three collections of stories. Apeirogon was a New York Times bestseller, won the 2020 Prix du Meilleur Livres Étranger, was shortlisted for the Prix Femina and the Prix Médicis in France and longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. He was born in Dublin and lives in New York.

Rami Elhanan

Israeli Peace Advocate

Rami Elhanan, 70, an Israeli Jew from the western tip of Jerusalem, served in a tank repair unit of the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur War. His father came to Jerusalem in 1946, shortly after surviving Auschwitz. His daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing attack in the late 1990s on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street. Through Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum, made up of more than 600 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, Rami has spent decades preaching bridge-building over division.

Bassam Aramin

Palestinian Peace Advocate

Bassam Aramin, 52, a Palestinian Muslim from Hebron, in the West Bank, spent seven years of his youth in an Israeli prison for hurling a defunct hand grenade at an Israeli jeep. In 2007 his ten year old daughter Abir was killed by an Israeli rubber bullet near her school. Through Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum, made up of more than 600 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, Bassam has spent decades preaching bridge-building over division.

Belle Donati

News Anchor and Arts Presenter

Belle Donati is a news anchor and arts presenter. She helped launch NBC-Euronews in 2018, anchoring the new channel’s flagship breakfast show Good Morning Europe. Previously, Belle worked at France 24 English as an anchor, as well as Al Jazeera English, ITV and BBC Radio 4 as a Producer. As a Culture Correspondent for Reuters, she reported on stories ranging from David Bowie’s death to refugee theatre projects on the Syria-Lebanon border.