And the Winner Is…

The winner to our summer reading contest is Valerie, who I believe blogs here.

Congratulations to Valerie—I’ll need your address, of course, and I hope you really did read The Story of Zahra by Hanan al-Shaykh.

If you like reading challenges, one participant, JoV, seems to be involved in lots of them. Meanwhile:

Libyan Literary Update

The new Al Akhbar English has a profile of Khaled Mattawa: The Homecoming of a Politicized Poet

AFP put together a nice short piece about a Tripoli bookshop near Martyr’s (formerly Green) Square. As Libyan writer Ghazi Gheblawi tweeted: “@arablit now this is a nice report from Tripoli, although they misspelled Mr. Bakhbakhy’s name, used to hang around there a lot, love it”

Fall Arab Literary Events Hard to Come By In U.S., But…

…in Malta they’re having a (free) Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival with a number of great writers, including Tarek Eltayeb. Novelist and organiser of international literature events Suzy Joinson adds “yes inizjamed v good org in Malta. Do go to fest!”

If You’ve Got Only 8 Minutes 50 Seconds

Use them to listen to Elias Khoury talk about his 2007 novel, As Though She Were Sleeping. Thanks to @ayatghanem for alerting me to it.

And thanks to blogger Sam Ruddock for writing about Elias Khoury (and Tahar Ben Jelloun)’s appearance at the #edbookfest. As he wrote:

But it was Elias Khoury and Tahar Ben Jelloun who had the most interesting things to say. I particularly liked Elias Khoury’s thoughts on influence, and belief that stories don’t so much reflect real life as they do other stories, that they are shaped by what came before and after, and that for this reason the 1001 Arabian Nights is the ultimate book.

It must be difficult to be an author of Arab descent at the moment. It doesn’t really matter what you say about books or literature, how interesting you are on these subjects or how convincing your reading, the Arab Spring overshadows all. It is all any interviewer or audience member wants to ask about. They had interesting comments, of course, and the scrutiny was on every word they said on this subject, but they were far more interesting on writing. A quick look at the Twitter #EdBookFest hashtag will show you what I mean.