Two Takes on Beirut39

I can’t find anyone blogging from the festival. Guardian editor Claire Armistead is (tweeting? is that the accepted verb?), but too sporadically and personally to give a view of the events.

She notes:

Gem from Beirut translation event (which did eventually get some audience): only 3 untranslatables – food, flora, fauna and fashion.

I assume flora and fauna count together? And while this sounds pithy (these items are all difficult to translate, no doubt), I don’t really feel I can hang my hat on it. Surely there are more complex issues than this. What about Chinua Achebe’s chi, agbala, or egwugwu?

This was actually my favorite from her snapshots:

Hanging out with four translators on 6th floor of deserted uni building. Look, audience! shouts one. 3 passers-by look surprised.

From the Daily Star, there’s a roundup of events titled “Under-39 authors lecture on issues of Arab identity.” At least the article does admit it’s “literary topics and issues of contemporary Arab identity.”

The piece is particularly interested (yawn) in diaspora Arab identity, which I understand is one of the main events to have taken place in English. Moroccan-Dutch author Abdel-Kader Benali talked about what Arab-ness meant to him:

“For me, growing up in the Netherlands in the 1980s, the Arab world was something very distant and far away,” he said. “But everything changed with the first Gulf war and the advent of satellite television. The Arab world has become something much closer to home for everyone, something of greater importance which needs to be better understood.”

I hear Benali’s very talented—I haven’t yet read him—so I want to know what he thinks about literature, and language, and art…. The piece also briefly talks about (Arab-American) author Randa Jarrar.

Last night at 6 p.m., there was an event featuring Mansoura Ez Eldin, Mohammad Salah Al Azab and Youssef Rakha on the topic of “New Egyptian Literature.” Now that, I’d like to hear about….