I look forward to getting copies of all these books soon, and to talking with Robin Moger, Max Weiss, Adam Talib, and Chip Rossetti about the translations.

I really like the jackets that BQFP has been putting out.

Vertigo
By Ahmed Mourad
Translated by Robin Moger

From BQFP:

‘A novel deserving of applause’ Sonallah Ibrahim

Caught in a ruthless, political game where the penalty for losing is your life, what would you do?

Vertigo is a sprawling political thriller that pursues this question. Ahmed, a society photographer in a celebrated Cairo nightclub, witnesses a friend horrifically killed in a fight between young business rivals. He is forced to flee from the scene of the crime and go into hiding. Ahmed is then ensnared in a web of crimes whose perpetrators stop at nothing to cover up. He is forced to confront ruthless players in a game where losing is not an option – unless he wants to lose his life.

Vertigo was first published in Arabic in 2007, and has been reprinted several times since. This page-turner exposes the seedy underbelly of life in Mubarak’s Egypt from one of the few suspense writers in the Arab world.

Born in 1978, Ahmed Mourad is a photographer, graphic designer and a novelist who has won several awards for his short films. Vertigo is his first novel.

A Tunisian Tale, by Hassouna Mosbahi
Translated by Max Weiss

From AUC Press:

An unconventional novel that explores the darker side of modern Tunisian society

After ne’er-do-wells spread rumors about a widowed mother’s weak moral character among the people of a slum on the outskirts of Tunis that festers with migrants who have come to the metropolis from the heartland in search of a better life, her twenty-year-old son takes matters into his own hands and commits an unspeakable crime. An imaginative and disturbing novel told from the alternating viewpoints of this unrepentant sociopath, as he sits and fumes on death row but willingly guides us through his juvenile exploits and twisted memories, and his murdered mother, who calmly gives an account of her interrupted life from beyond the grave, A Tunisian Tale introduces the narrative talents of Hassouna Mosbahi to an English-language audience for the first time, as he confronts both taboos of Tunisian society and the boundaries of conventional storytelling.

Hassouna Mosbahi was born in Kairouan, Tunisia, in 1950. He received the National Novel Prize (Tunisia) in 1986 and the Tukan Prize (Munich) in 2000. A Tunisian Tale is his first novel to be published in English. Max Weiss is assistant professor of history and Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. He is the translator of several Arabic novels.

Sarmada, by Fadi Azzam
Translated by Adam Talib

From Swallow Editions:

With Sarmada, Fadi Azzam proves to us that there are still undiscovered gems in Arabic literature… beautiful writing, long stifled by dictatorship, has just begun to free itself from the grips of censorship. Sarmada and its women dance in front of us with all their senses; they take us by the hand and escort us into their village homes, where the events of this great novel take place.”

—Rafik Schami

You can also read an excerpt at Book2Look.

Utopia, By Ahmed Khaled Towfik
Translated by Chip Rossetti

From BQFP:

A grim futuristic account of Egyptian society in the year 2023, “Utopia” takes readers on a chilling journey beyond the gated communities of the North Coast where the wealthy are insulated from the bleakness of life outside the walls. When a young man and a girl break out from this bubble of affluence in order to see for themselves the lives of their impoverished fellow Egyptians they are confronted by a world that they had not imagined possible. Breathtaking and suspenseful, “Utopia’s” twists and turns will keep readers guessing until the very last page, and may leave some wondering whether this is a vision of the future that is not too far away.

Ahmed Khaled Towfik was born in 1962 and is the Arab world’s most prominent bestselling author of fantasy and horror genres. A medical professor at Egypt’s Tanta University, he has written over two hundred books.

You can also read a review of Utopia from The Independent, which refers to the novel as “a miniature masterpiece.”

Also: All these authors, with the exception of Mosbahi, will be appearing at fall literary events in the U.K.

3 thoughts on “New Next Month in Translation: Novels from Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria

  1. These books sound great. Three of the translators have non-Arabic names. I am curious about the education and life experiences of non-Arabs who achieve the degree of fluency required for translation.

    I’ll put these titles on my “to read” list, maybe at the head of the line.

    1. Well, I hope to have Q&As with all of them, so I can ask. Chip I believe came here to Egypt in…2004, but I can’t say that I know why. Robin also was here in Egypt for quite some time. But again, I can’t say why. 🙂

      And although I’ve corresponded with Max, I guess I don’t know anything about why Arabic. So…good question!

  2. I read the excerpt of Sarmada at Book2Look, and I must say I was favorably impressed with the high quality of the writing. I would not seek out a novel featuring the theme of transmigration, but the writing is so nice I would read the book anyway.

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