Hesham Zakai

I am a writer, journalist and English Language and Literature graduate from King's College London. I have previously edited the London Student and worked at the Financial Times, and I am now based at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Permission to Narrate 


There is a particularly painstaking scene in Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus: having been raped, Lavinia’s tongue is cut off to prevent her from being able to tell of the crimes visited upon her by Chiron and Demetrius. So her screams and protestations went in vain as the play reflects on the frustrations of being in possession of world truths yet unable to articulate them.

Elucidating similar themes in an influential essay for the London Review of Books, the late, great Palestinian-American academic and activist Edward Said explicates the ways in which this reality has confronted the people of his homeland for decades.

Faced with the inexplicable horrors of expulsion and exclusion, he says, they were moreover denied the platform from which to project these horrors and hold them up to the world. They were, in other words, denied the permission to narrate.

This phrase encapsulates the importance of narrative and the right of every person to narrate their own. It is important, too, for narratives to be interactive and responsive, which is why I wish to use my blog as a discursive space not only to disseminate but to discuss. So as well as this website being somewhere for me to archive my output, it is also celebration of another person's permission to narrate.