Who Are You, Blogger?

That's me all right.

It doesn’t much matter who I am.

If you read ArabLit, you’re probably here for news of Arabic literature, or fresh literary voices, or chitter-chatter about Arabic-English translation. Does M. Lynx Qualey, the person behind this blog, really have three small children? Did she move to Cairo in August 2001? Does she drive slowly and cough violently at second-hand smoke? Well, yes. Does it matter? Not really.

After all, this blog is not about M. Lynx Qualey. It’s about Arab and Arabic literatures, and thus honesty of critique matters far more than veracity of biographical detail.

Yet with some blogs, biographical detail does matter. With some, it matters deeply. This is particularly the case when biographical details motivate not just real-world sympathies, but real-world actions. In the world of blogs, a bisexual female who writes of being a rape survivor sometimes turns out to be a middle-aged man, and those who extended their sympathy and support feel betrayed. In the world of books, sometimes a writer who says he’s been kidnapped by the Taliban and asks the masses to donate to his causes, well, you know.

So if a talented poet-blogger (or a blogger’s cousin) says she’s been kidnapped by the Syrian government and unjustly imprisoned, like so many others? And if there is no real verification outside the world of that blog? You want and don’t want it to be true.

Certainly, we are all inventing ourselves. In a sense, sure, everything that’s out there is fiction. Humans are always telling stories about ourselves; that’s how we thread a singular “I” through our lives. And yet I’d be lying if I claimed not to have a strong visceral reaction to the feeling that I’ve been fooled.

So, even though I don’t like sharing personal information, this felt like a day to out myself. I believe this is the only piece of memoir I’ve written although that, I suppose, could be wrong.

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16 comments

  1. Marcia the Bold, I applaud your self-baptisms, your easy-to-assimilate “outing,” and–above all–your wonderful blog! Lutefisk is a lot better with kushari, isn’t it?

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  2. I think I’ve managed to avoid lutefisk thus far. And fiseekh. But I, like my two older boys, love kushari.

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  3. Even though I feel that your site is an excellent resource on Arabic Lit in English — and that’s why I read it — it is nice to “meet” the person behind all the work done here.

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  4. Well, even if your blog is about Arab lit in English, I felt I always got bits and pieces of you in your writings, which I happen to like a lot, and I read all of your daily postings. So, I cannot say “Nice to meet you, Marcia!” because you haven’t remained a complete stranger to me. But I can say, “Nice to meet your face, Marcia!” I can now associate your face with your wonderful blog 🙂

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  5. Nice to finally meet (see) you -:)
    I have been following your blog for some time now and feel like I know you already.

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  6. M. Lynx Qualey, You have been doing a woderful service, a service to the lirature all round the world. Go on this help pls. My selfless supports.
    -S.A.Qudsi

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  7. Thanks to all the readers who’ve introduced themselves. I appreciate your support, since the pay for this work leaves a little to be desired.

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  8. Well Marcia, I never had any doubt about your authenticity. I loved this post, and your courage, it must be the revolution spirit in your wings, more power to you, you brave amazing woman. I know I don’t comment enough. But i have religiously read every single post. You are a true inspiration.

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  9. You would certainly know, mlynxqualey, if “the pay for this work leaves a little to be desired.” Perhaps a practical tip would be welcome to complement your extensive knowledge of literature: Many websites or blogs such as yours have a “Donate” or “PayPal” button that enables pleased readers to provide more than applause.

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  10. Somervillein—I know, Isaandr for instance has one over at The Arabist, and I respect what Issandr does very much. But it would make me uncomfortable, I’m afraid, to ask for money. If we ever can’t scrape together the money for school fees, perhaps.

    And Sherine, how very, very nice of you. Yes, I have found myself braver. January 28 was a real revelation for me: I was out there, 9 months pregnant, chanting, weeping, sharing that great moment with my children and my neighbors. Whatever happens next, it was an incredible liberation.

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  11. I also moved to Cairo in 2001 and lived there 3 years before moving to Alex, then Beni Suef, then Wisconsin… so sorry I missed you & hope to meet in person one day!

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  12. wow, i just lost myself for hours in this blog. this blog just did what any great book does. so meta! thank you for all your efforts!

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