Friday Links: Your Dose of Orientalism, Publishing Controversies, Graphic Novels, More

In the interest of “balance,” today we’ll be providing some good old-fashioned views of Arabs (in English) over here at ArabLit!

First, the Guardian books blog has a post about reading and knowing Tangiers via European writers (and the disappointments of not finding any bloodthirsty tribals, a la Sheltering Sky, on one’s trip to Morocco).

Author Fadia Faqir responds here.

Second, KABOBfest has revived a (satirical) Jordanian blog post titled “How to write about Arabia.”  It’s clearly inspired by the now-infamous “How to Write About Africa,” even using the catchphrase “because you care.”

Make sure you show how Arabs are completely different from the West, and do things no other humans do. Do not mention music, television or bars; the mosque is an Arab’s entertainment of choice, along with jihad, war, tribal meetings, gutting sheep, cutting off limbs, and having arguments about the inferiority of women. Make sure you show that you are able to partake in such acts without flinching, and describe how you learn to understand this perspective—because you care.


Translating More Graphic Novels

This week, we heard that Magdy al-Shafee’s Metro, billed as Egypt’s first graphic novel, will soon be released in Italian translation. And Publishers Weekly has a report on “graphic novels sales abroad.” Diamond Distributors’ VP Kuo-Yu Liang told PW that he aims to get Qais Sedki’s award-winning graphic novel Gold Ring translated from Arabic into several languages. And, he said,I’m hoping we can get more English books translated into Arabic as well.”

That’s fine, of course. (Although what  I really want isn’t Superman, but Asterix in Arabic.) And yet more important is growing a local crop of Arabic graphic novelists.


Bahaa Taher vs. AUC Press

I’m apparently the last to have heard about the Bahaa Taher vs. AUC Press controversy.  I have to admit my understanding of publishing contracts is quite slim. Is AUC Press fair with its Arabic-writing authors? You can read and peruse for yourself here, here, and here. To be fair, I doubt that AUC Press is raking in the cash.


Miral al-Tahawy and AUC Press

AUC Press will be publishing an English-language translation of Miral al-Tahawy’s IPAF-longlisted Brooklyn Heights “probably in the second half of next year.”


Doha International Book Fair Going on Now

This year’s Doha International Book Fair is underway, and the guest of honor is Turkish lit. According to Today’s Zaman:

Writers Ali Ural, Ayfer Tunç and Ece Temelkuran are expected to attend panel discussions at the fair, where they will discuss Turkish poetry, short story and novel writing.

Next week, Doha will also host its first international children’s book fair, starring great authors such as Fatima Sharafeddine and Walid Taher. I’m very excited to be attending!


If you’re interested in the world of Arabic children’s literature (including YA), you can drop by our* other blog, Read Kutub Kids, to read about how translations might be suffocating local children’s book markets, how to write environmental children’s lit, recommended Arabic YA, and more.


Over at the Arabophile, Youssef Rakha discovers the poetry of Mahmoud Abdelghani.



In Cairo, Kotob Khan’s “Book of the Month” will be discussed Sunday, Nov. 28 at 8pm. It’s Mouqtaniat Wust Al Balad, the latest book by IPAF-shortlisted Mekkawi Said.

الأصدقاء الأعزاء
نتشرف بدعوتكم لحضور مناقشة كتاب الشهر “مقتنيات وسط البلد” للكاتب مكاوي سعيد وذلك يوم الأحد الموافق 28 نوفمبر في تمام الساعة الثامنة مساء بالكتب خان. الدعوة عامة

If you’re in Dubai, don’t miss READ KUTUB’s discussion on Monday Dec. 6th at 7:45 p.m. of Stealth (Al Talassus) by Sonallah Ibrahim.

*Yes, unfortunately that’s the “royal” first-person plural.