Missing from Cairo’s Beirut39 Event: Ahmad Yamani

Yamani, who apparently is traveling, is the Egyptian writer missing from Kotob Khan’s Beirut39 reading and discussion. Sousan Hammad has a new (short) interview with him on the Beirut39 blog.

There is little of Yamani available in English. One of his poems—“The Utopia of Cemetaries”—has been translated by Sinaan Antoon (lucky Yamani!) and will be included in the Beirut39 anthology. Here, let me briefly lament that while poets translate poetry, it is not always fiction writers, or those with an artistic touch, translating fiction.

Rakha asks Yamani what he hopes to get out of Beirut39:

“Following the footsteps of Bogota39, I believe Beirut39 will be an important event that will somewhat help introduce Arabic literature, which unlike so many other literatures, has not reached as many readers even though it is not any less important.”

Unrelated: The same Youssef Rakha has a funny piece today about the differences between being a journalist in Egypt and in the UAE.

Even more unrelated: The Guardian has an irritating piece about the insularity of English-language readers and the solution, which apparently comes through more European writing. Never mind Asia, South America, and Africa. Just…never mind.