Al-Aswany Doesn’t Rule Out Publishing in Hebrew

Internationally best-selling Egyptian author and political commentator Alaa Al-Aswany was a guest on Yosri Fouda’s “Last Word” on Friday.

Al-Aswany has not had a regular outlet for his commentary since the loss of his Al Shorouk column, which he gave up after pressure was placed on the paper’s publisher. According to Zeinobia, he spoke on “Last Word” about the 2010 elections, the Dostour shenanigans, and Dr. Mohammed al-Baradei.

Al-Aswany also defended his decision to refuse the free Hebrew translation of The Yacoubian Building by the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, which published the book without his permission. A number of international critics, including Egyptian-American author Yahia Lababidi, accused Al-Aswany of blocking a solution to regional peace and ignoring common humanity. A piece in The Guardian was sympathetic to his rights as an author, but suggested Al-Aswany was simply afraid of Egyptian national opinion on the matter, saying, “Perhaps Al Aswany is wary of being caught up in political intrigue beyond his control.”

But, according to Zeinobia, Al-Aswany said that he:

…does not reject the idea that his books would be translated to Hebrew[,] but not through an Israeli publishing house.

She also reported that Al-Aswany will have up a new website soon for his commentary (he also posted on his blog about that), and said that he plans to release his next book in 2011.


The full story (and video), courtesy of Zeinobia

Alaa Al-Aswany’s blog on Maktoob

Over at Big Think, Al-Aswany speaks about anti-Semitism


  1. just windered how many hebrew books get translated the other way ? stu

  2. thanks for the links ,the second one seems a bit wrong Nevo’s books are in print in uk and there are a couple out ,but like most things we don’t translate enough books into english from both Hebrew and Arabic ,thank stu

    1. Yes, I believe M.A. Orthofer rebutted it (the idea that not much Hebrew is translated into English). While you could say not much anything is translated into English, he asserts a good portion of it is Hebrew lit.

  3. It is encouraging to hear that Al-Aswany does not reject the idea of a translation. I don’t think it is helpful however to suggest I “accused” Aswany of anything, especially something on the magnitude of “blocking a solution to regional peace” or “ignoring common humanity.”

    As it is, this is a fairly delicate subject, and the words we use (as well as where the stress falls) matter a great deal. Simply, I was making a plea to a writer I respect, on behalf of Art, to reconsider his position and the inherent possibilities of literature for greater communication.

    Below is my full exchange:

    As an admirer of Dr. Aswany’s work, and a fellow Egyptian writer, I think that this is a wasted opportunity. In an ideal world, one ought to be able to trust in the agility of art to sidestep politics, and cut to the heart of our shared humanity.

    Dr. Aswany is certainly entitled to his political position to reject ‘normalization,’ but it’s a pity that cultural products must also be held hostage to this stalemate. Really, what can be lost by allowing others to share our stories and dreams?

    In the spirit of limitless communication that literature offers (across space and time) I do wish that Dr. Aswany might reconsider his position on translation.

    In the interest of nuance, I thought to add this distinction Dr. Aswany draws between his feelings for Jews versus Israel:

    Yahia Lababidi

    1. Thanks for the clarification,

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