The giant International Literature Festival Berlin (ILB) creaks underway tomorrow. The megafest will feature at least three Arabic-language authors: Libyan poet Ghazi Gheblawi, Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim (Madman of Freedom Square), and Egyptian Ghada Mohamed Mahmoud (Ama Hazihi Fa Raqsati Ana).
For some reason or another, only Mahmoud is listed on the authors page.
The three authors will speak at a September 25 forum called “New Kids on the Blog – Young Arab Literature on the Internet.” According to the talk description:
In the recent years the political activities of Arab bloggers have drawn international attention. Less prominent are the bloggers who are using new social media to create literature. The internet helps young authors in particular to evade oppressive state censorship, to discuss religious matters freely and diverge from the cultural mainstream. Many Arab authors have won large followings with their courageous writing, and they are able to actively communicate with their “fans” over the internet.
The talk also features a blogger referred to as “Sudanese Thinker,” who blogs here. “Sudanese Thinker” was born in Khartoum, Sudan, and goes online by his pseudonym, Drima Abu Hamdan. I wasn’t previously familiar with the “Sudanese Thinker” blog; at first blush, it seems more politics than literary, but I didn’t peruse archives going back to 2006. I leave that to you.
Mahmoud had a book that came from a blog and Gheblawi runs the well-known Imtidad, and Hassan Blasim runs the website iraqstory.com. Blassim is also a fantastic, startling writer (longlisted for last year’s Independent foreign-fiction prize for his Madman of Freedom Square).
You can read some of Gheblawi’s poems on his website.
If you’re in Berlin, the talk will take place in Heinrich Böll Foundation at 1 p.m., and it’s free.