What Would an Author Do?

Often, we contemporary English-language readers look to authors as our world’s moral compasses. Sometimes it works, and they lead us true. Great authors speak some sort of truth, at least about their particular obsessions. But mediocre, good, even great authors — Knut Hamsun usually comes to mind — sometimes follow their compass into ugliness.

The Lyric, Slapstick, Romantic, Academic ‘Land of No Rain’

This year, 2014CE, hasn’t been a very particularly good one for real-world human ventures. Fortunately, however, it has been an excellent one for Arabic literature in translation: Iman Humaydan Younes’s circling “Other Lives”; Radwa Ashour’s emotional “Tantoureya” and “Blue Lorries”; Jabbour Douaihy’s sharp “June Rain”; Sonallah Ibrahim’s compelling “Stealth” was re-issued; two more volumes of the incredible “Leg over Leg”; several interesting collections. But the book that has made my year, thus far, is Amjad Nasser’s “Land of No Rain.”

‘Edge of the Abyss’: On Violence and the Myths of (Literary) Creation

The 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been awarded — to Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad — but yesterday, IPAF Board of Trustees’ chair Yasir Suleiman noted that there are many gems to be found on the prize’s longlists. Richard Cozzens here reviews Ibrahim Nasrallah’s longlisted Edge of the Abyss for 7iber and ArabLit, a novel he says is, in its best moments, about violence and the act of creation.


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