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Reading and Conversation: Der Schamaya-Palast

Once among the most luxurious buildings in the Jewish quarter of the old town of Damascus, the Shamaya Palace is now the place where Ahmad and his family are housed: they are Palestinian refugees who share living quarters in the palace with almost 50 other refugee families.


When he meets George, a Palestinian Christian, Ahmad finds a good friend. Together they explore life in Damascus and dive into the human relations in the old town with its religious and ethnic diversity—until one day Ahmad disappears and the world of politics catches up with their lives.

Ali Al-Kurdi’s novel, which was translated to German by Larissa Bender, tells of the misery of the Palestinian refugees, the situation of Syrian Jews following the founding of Israel, of everyday life in Damascus, and of love stories between refugees and Jewish women.Born in Damascus in 1953, Ali Al-Kurdi is a Palestinian writer and journalist. Because of his political and cultural activities and involvement with the left-wing movement in Syria he was targeted by the Syrian secret service beginning in the 1970s and jailed as a political prisoner several times. From 1982 alone, he spent nine years in prison, first at the secret service facility in Damascus and later at the notorious Tadmur and Saidnaya prisons. He published a volume of short stories in Arabic in 1998, which was followed by his debut novel, Der Schamaya-Palast, in 2010. He lives in Weimar.

Larissa Bender is a literary translator from the Arabic as well as a journalist with a focus on Syria and Arabic literature, lecturer in Arabic, moderator, workshop teacher, expert on Arabic literature, and consultant for publishers and arts promoters. In 2018, she was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit for her work as an intercultural ambassador for the Arabic world.


Featuring a musical performance by Farah Sulaiman (flute).

Presented in German and Arabic.

Admission is free, registration is required.
Additional information
Participating artists
Ali Al-Kurdi
Larissa Bender
Prof. Dr. Kai Wiegandt
Farah Sulaiman