Google is such a strange thing: You can find out about Allen’s 2010 summer seminar through a letter to his colleagues.  Allen has been in the Arab-lit field since the 1960s, has translated numerous works, and has written The Arabic Novel and The Arabic Literary Heritage.

This is particularly interesting for literature professors, I think, as relatively few teach any Arabic literature in English.

Most of Allen’s selections are to be expected (Saleh, Mahfouz, Munif, al-Shaykh), but I don’t know Muhammad Barrada or his The Game of Forgetting, which Allen describes as a “wonderfully nuanced study of the lives of a Moroccan family.” His description further intrigues when it adds that the book: “challenges the very methods that fiction has used to tell stories through time and to portray characters and actions.”

Hmm.

His choice of Mahfouz is unexpected, although even more unexpected is his rendering of Naguib as Najib. Say what you like about classical Arabic prose, but the man was Egyptian and his name was Naguib or Nagib or Nageeb, hard g.