Book Review – Minor Detail by Adania Shibli

This year I am trying to broaden my horizons when it comes to reading and try novels outside of my comfort zone. I found that last year with lockdowns and a lot of other things going on I often reverted to my chosen genres such as rom-coms, thrillers and fantasy. But this year I am determined to try something new, and this was one of them.

Minor Detail is set in two different timelines, but both connected. The first part is the re-telling of a horrific event which happened in 1949 in Israel where a Sargent captured, raped and then shot a young girl. The second part is written many years later by a woman who finds an article about the event and becomes intrigued, and a little obsessed with trying to find out more about this event.

The writing style for the two narratives are beautifully contrasted. The first part is very disciplined, fact driven with little emotion. It tells the story in a very direct manner as this is from the Sargent’s point of view, so is more in-line wuth a military report.

The second part is much more emotional, and the structure is more like a stream of consciousness, as we see the woman’s anxieties and insecurities come to life and reflected in the writing style and structure.

After reading a newspaper article about this event one minor detail attracts her attention, that this event happened exactly 25 years to the day, prior to her birth. This spurs her on to find out more about what really happened at that time. Growing up in Israel, she describes what it is like under occupation, from the military checkpoints to the special passes to allow them to travel to set areas of the country, as well as the oppression and destruction of many of the towns and villages throughout Israel. It is a truly harrowing account of what life is like and raises many questions about the violence that the residents of these towns still cope with. It also illustrates how difficult life is for those under occupation. To travel to two museums, for most of us is an easy feat and not something we would necessarily need to plan. But with different zones, military checkpoints and roads blocked off, the journey becomes a dangerous adventure, as she must borrow her colleague’s pass to travel across to the zone she needs to be in.

This story is a truly intense, hard-hitting read, bring to light tough issues like war, violence and rape. It is not a book for the light-hearted, but it is a story you should read. It is shocking and terrifying what Israel has suffered, and still suffers to this day. The oppression this nation has experienced is nothing we have ever had to go through. If anything, this book has opened my eyes to the atrocities not only of war but of the aftermath of war and life under occupation.

This is a very short book, but it was engaging and I couldn’t help but read it in one sitting. The characters in the book are well depicted and the journey the woman goes on to try and find out the full truth of the event, illustrated the difficulties of not just women but all people living in the country and what lengths you need to go to just to travel. The topics it covers and the issues it raises are ones which need to be heard and brought to light more.

Living in England we never truly appreciate how free we are, being able to travel around the country whenever and wherever we want to. But, this book, made me aware of what life is like under occupation and how difficult it is for many countries functioning this way.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- a harrowing, but beautifully written, depiction of war, violence and one woman’s journey to find answers whilst fighting her own internal battles.

What was the last book you read that had a profound effect on you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Much love 💘

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