If you’re in Cambridge: Voices of Political Dissent in Arabic Literature

Culture Minister and author Bensalem Himmich

If you’re near Harvard on the afternoon of March 9, do stop by their Weil Hall to hear William Granara, Nevenka Korica, Allison Blecker, and Benjamin Smith speak about literature and political dissent.

Granara will focus on the Saudi novel, Korica on poetry, Blecker on Khaled al-Khamissi’s Taxi (translated into English by Jonathan Wright), and Smith on “Moroccan Voices of Dissent from Bensalem Himmich’s My Oppressor.” The latter discussion will perhaps be complicated by the fact that Himmich is now part of the Moroccan government—its Minister of Culture—and is not, in that capacity, particularly beloved by Moroccan writers, who boycotted this year’s Casablanca Book Fair in protest of his office’s policies.

New al-Qasim Poem in Translation: ‘The End of a Discussion with a Prison-guard’

Samih al-Qasim

A.Z. Foreman has translated a new poem by Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim: “The End of a Discussion with a Prison-guard.” (Not quite sure why he hyphenates prison guard, but there you are.)

You can read a few other translations of al-Qasim’s work here, as well as others by Foreman, and you can watch an interview with al-Qasim on “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” if you’re so inclined.

Also, Nazih Kassis has translated a collection of al-Qasim’s poems titled Sadder than Water: New & Selected Poems.

And, after all that, the poem:

The End of a Discussion With a Prison-guard

by Samih Al-Qasim
translated by A.Z. Foreman

Through the eyehole of this little cell of mine
I can see the trees all smiling at me,
The rooftops crowded with my family,
The windows breaking into tears for me
And prayers for me.
Through the eyehole of this little cell of mine
I see your bigger cell just fine.

To read the Arabic original and argue over the translation, visit Foreman’s website.

Two poems of the Libyan Revolution

Over at Jabal al-Lughat, Lameen Souag has posted—with commentary—two poems of the revolution, one in Berber and the other in Arabic.

The first is quite short:

Patience for the time
And hope for the future of the people
And he who is thirsty shall drink his fill!

Time to Re-Read Season of Migration to the North?

Palestinian author Raja Shehadeh argues, in The Independent, that we are in a post-colonial moment, similar to the one that inspired Salih’s classic novel.

Project on Qatar’s oral heritage gets grant to produce graphic novel

The Gulf Times reports that the project “Orality to Image: Traditional Qatari Narratives and Visual Media” has been awarded a grant to adapt cross-generational oral narratives into a graphic novel. Sounds cool.

Sheikh Zayed awards are out: Egyptian Afaf Tabbalah wins children’s book award

Afaf Tabbalah

This year, the Sheikh Zayed committee did not give out awards for young author, fine arts, publishing and distribution or “best technology in the field of culture” awards. The committee stated that none of the nominations for the award met the judges’ standards.

Most of the other awards were for critical works, but Tabbalah also won for her YA novel البيت والنخلة, or The House and The Palm.

Read more on Read Kutub Kids: عفاف طبالة Wins Sheikh Zayed Award for البيت والنخلة!

Arabic and Hebrew: The politics of literary translation

Over at Publishing Perspectives, Olivia Snaije takes an interesting and in-depth look at translation between the Hebrew and the Arabic.

One thought on “Friday Links: Political Dissent in Arabic Literature, New (Revolutionary) Poetry in Translation, More

  1. Thank you for the link to the Independent article on “Season of Migration to the North.” I just read the novel for the first time last month; it’s without doubt the most perspective-changing novel I’ve read this year, truly an essential work. In light of the objections mentioned in the article to the book’s overt sexuality, I’m curious to know what the reaction over there has been to the overt sexuality in Sonallah Ibrahim’s wonderful “Stealth” (which I also just finished, thanks to your recommendation).

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