Free Rafik Schami Downloads…

A house without books is a house without a soul.

To celebrate (and promote, one would think) their new Rafik Schami release, The Calligrapher’s Secret, Interlink has sent out downloads of Schami’s essay on Arabic calligraphy, “What I Create Will Outlast Time: The Story of the Beauty of Arabic Script.” The essay—like Schami’s other works—is translated by the very-award-winning Anthea Bell.

I haven’t (yet) read it, but it’s free, so you can’t really go wrong.

Neither have I yet read The Calligrapher’s Secret, but you can browse a free excerpt online, to see if you like it. You can also read my review of Schami’s earlier novel, The Dark Side of Love,which was on last year’s shortlist for the Independent’s foreign fiction prize. (It would not have been my choice among the Arabic-language contenders, but I suppose they didn’t ask me.)

Conquering the Sky: Elliott Colla in Palestine

Writer/translator/professor Elliott Colla will be documenting his trip to Palestine (in 26 installments, so he says) on the website Jadaliyya.

Colla is perhaps best-known for his translations of Ibrahim al-Koni, in particular al-Koni’s Gold Dust.

His first installment from the trip—perhaps because of the blurry photo of the long hallway, or the emphasis on structure—seems oddly Sebaldian to me. Although with a dose of self-conscious comedy that surely W.G. would not have indulged:

I told the security officers that I was coming to Israel only to meet Jews. I said I would speak only with Jews, go only to Jewish places, eat only Jewish foods, patronize only Jewish-owned businesses in those cities whose Jewishness was unquestionable.  … I thought I was laying it on too thick, but each interrogator seemed to like what I said and passed me to the next who liked it even more.

EVENTS

London

Future installments of the Arab-Israeli Book Club will read David Grossman and Liana Badr. I’m surely old-fashioned, but I don’t like the idea of a book club with a cover price.

Although the address surely seems complicated, this one (Wed, Nov. 17) is free: Arabic Poetry Assembly: Qawafi El Dabab. A regular gathering open to anyone with a keen interest to participate in reciting, discussing, and sharing Arabic Poetry of all kinds. Meetings conducted in Arabic. Churchill Room, London House, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N 2A

More events from “Arab in London.”

Jordan

This week, and every week, check out 7iber.Com for literary and arts events in Jordan.

Cairo

We need a good events-listing champion as well. Meantime, I know that Mekkawi Said (of the IPAF shortlisted Cairo Swan Song) will be appearing on Nov. 28 at Kotob Khan to talk about his latest book.

Beirut

If you’re interested, the Festival of Lebanese Art Books is ongoing.

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