I stumbled across this new site a few days ago (via whom? I can’t remember, but thank you), and was delighted to see its list of suggested books, which includes many excellent texts and authors. (I started to make a sub-list of my favorites, but it was nearly as long as the original.)
I thought I’d ask the site’s founder and creator, Nahla Hanno, a few questions about how the project came about and where she was going with it.
On how it came about:
It all started about ten years ago. That’s when I discovered Ahdaf Soueif, and the wonderful world of Arab Women Writers. I wished for an online site that would make finding other AWW and their work easy, but it was not there. Moreover, most of those writers don’t have dedicated websites which makes any online research difficult or impossible. Since I’ve been managing Ahdaf Soueif’s site for the past five years, I thought of contacting some of my favorite AWWs (Hanan al-Shaykh, Liana Badr, Salwa Bakr, Hoda Barakat, Sahar Khalifeh…) to ask their permission to create sites for them, but finding contact information was difficult. So my interest shifted to creating the AWW website.
I started working on the site in August. As I mentioned on the home page, it is still a work in progress, since what started with 20-30 writers has now reached a total of 150 writers and still growing.
As for the site’s future, Hanno is ambitious:
I was planning on creating a mirror copy of the whole site in Arabic, but with the current number of writers, lack of my Arabic resources, and my full time job, it might be difficult.
I am hoping to create a blog style page for contributions by writers, readers, and teachers. Also will try to add interviews with some writers.
If you’re interested in using the AWW website in your classroom, the University of Minnesota’s “Voices from the Gaps” project—a similar site that focuses on North American women writers of color—has some teaching suggestions.
Please do check out the new Arab Women Writers site, and if you have suggestions (or can lend a hand), drop Hanno a note.