A Literary Event Where Everyone Knows How Old You Are

Last night, I attended the Beirut39 event at Kotob Khan (bookstore, although it feels strange to write “Book store bookstore”).

We did not get to know the authors’ weights and heights, as you would with professional athletes. Perhaps next time.

The authors were, in order of seniority:

Al Azab was clearly the youngest; he arrived late and had to squeeze into the panel. He was the one who seemed very young to me: He was born in 1981 and is full of energy and promise. Hamdy el Gazzar charmed me the most with his reading.

The event was a bit sparsely attended, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves nonetheless.

So: What work from these young writers is available in English?

I’ve seen Hamdy el Gazzar’s Black Magic around; now I feel negligent for not having picked it up.  You can peruse an excerpt online through Google Books, and then buy it from AUC Press.

Mansoura Ez Eldin’s first novel, Maryam’s Maze, came out from AUC Press in 2005. Her second novel, Beyond Paradise, has been shortlisted for the Arabic Booker and is sure to be translated (masha’allah, touch wood). An excerpt of Maryam’s Maze is also available online.

Banipal 32 has an excerpt of “Repeated Stopping” by Mohamed Salah al-Azab; you have to buy the magazine.

Nagat Ali’s poetry also has appeared in Banipal.

However, you can read a story by Youssef Rakha (free! online!) at Miranda magazine; you can also read his work on his blog.