I’m not quite sure what’s going on here, but Ibrahim al-Koni’s masterwork The Animists (translated by Elliot Colla) was originally scheduled to be out from AUC Press in February of this year. Now, it’s had its English-language debut delayed until June of 2012. That’s, you know, quite a delay.
Meanwhile, al-Koni’s The Puppet, translated by the veteran William Hutchins, has jumped suddenly ahead: It’s due out in November of this year from University of Texas Press.
I’m still partial to—among al-Koni’s novels—The Bleeding of the Stone (in very engaging translation from May Jayyusi and Christopher Tingley), although I also enjoyed Gold Dust and Seven Veils of Seth (translated by Colla), and Anubis (translated by Hutchins).
Al-Koni is stylistically interesting, using voice and structure in compelling new ways. He also creates the desert-as-character in a way I haven’t seen elsewhere. From something I never finished writing about al-Koni:
To al-Koni’s characters, habitat is never marginal. Human and non-human animals interact as true partners or true enemies in the struggle for meaningful survival. Yes, animals are incorporated into a human-centered story. But they are not “flat” characters. And they are not just humans in disguise, appearing as animals in order to symbolize some human trait or another. These animals can startle the reader into a momentary recognition that the gulf between different species—between human and non-human creatures—is not so great.