Banipal 39: Modern Tunisian Literature

The new Banipal (39) is out—somewhere—although rest assured my copy will take its time getting to Cairo.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to content myself with the table of contents. As you’d expect, Arabic Booker-shortlisted Habib Selmi is in evidence (you can read his The Scents of Marie-Claire in English courtesy of AUC Press), but most of the other authors are lesser-known.

On Facebook, MLA Division on Arabic Literature comments:

New Banipal issue is devoted to Tunisian Literature–a nice gesture, but is that really it? Is that Tunisian literature? (Anyhow, let’s just say, it’s better than nothing)

I suppose most of the Tunisian authors (Leila Marouane, Abdelwahab Meddeb) I know write in French.

The issue also includes poetry by Adonis (good choice, just in case he gets that Nobel tomorrow); an excerpt from Rafik Schami’s latest novel, The Calligrapher’s Secret, which either just appeared in English or is forthcoming momentarily; and an excerpt from Iraqi author Fadhil Al-Azzawi’s The Traveller and the Innkeeper, which I would very much like to see.

Coming soon-ish to a postal station near me.


Banipal would also like to invite you to a Tunisian Literature Panel Discussion at Frankfurt Book Fair, set for October 10 from 11:30-12:30. Participants include Habib Selmi, Nouri Obaid, and Walid Soliman. 


  1. The comment from MLA Division on Arabic Literature sounds pretty sour. What’s up with that? Some of the authors write in French, yes, but how does that make their literature less Tunisian?

    1. I don’t have a notion that they meant French vs. Arabic; perhaps they were missing particular authors. I don’t know enough about Tunisia to make any kind of educated guess. I suppose I’ll have to resort to asking!

      Look forward to seeing your Habib Selmi translation….

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