I am a bit mortified to post anything that smells of self-congratulation. But I did say this was a radically open space, open to what salon participants want to make of it. (Also, of course, I was moved by Mona’s essay.) So here, regular Mona Elnamoury writes about her relationship to this site.
Less than a year ago, I came across arablit.wordpress.com on the AUC website. I was curious to go through it and I started reading and subscribing. Day after day, I would go through the early morning post and learn something new about my own literature and culture and wonder about the amazingly various resources of the blog’s admin. I searched for her picture and found the funny caption underneath “ ok yes, this is me!” and laughed. Then one day she ended a post by asking if anyone participating in the last issue of Metamorphoses, the special Arab translations issue, is connected and I answered positively saying that I had had my copy of the issue together with mentioning causally that I taught at Tanta University.
Marcia Lynx’s answer came: “Since when does mail reach Tanta before Cairo?” Her rather sarcastic but logical question stopped me. “This is someone who knows much about Egypt” I thought. I started to read her blog with a closer look. With that done, I realized that the blog admin was a special creative writer and a translator herself.
Illuminating posts about translation problems, updated posts about what is new in the literary market, deep critiques of stories and books open windows for writers and translators to look at the world and to have the world look at them: All these types of posts and others have been there on arablit.wordpress.com for the past months. Many of the posts are fit to be compiled and edited into interesting books. Realizing that thousands actually follow her blog increased my respect for a 24 hour-working-mom. I know, only too well, what it is to try to write creatively with three boys breathing down your neck!
What is touching about Marcia Lynx’s blog, and naturally about “herself”, is the space she gives to everyone to express and post. Not that she accepts any post or every post, but the room she generously offers for those who seriously want to participate is a smart one. This room is always enough to make aspiring writers emerge, hesitant translators to write about their work, ignorant writers to know where to send their work, late beginners to know there is still a chance to bloom late and finally busy-handed mothers and workers like myself to have an outlet and a chance¸ an impetus, a push; you name it. With all those different types of participants and viewers, the salon hostess knows what she is doing. She is never a sticky hostess or a careless one. The perfect balance is never lost from her hands.
And how is this done? So delicately and silently that sometimes you get the strange feeling that the blog runs itself or the salon is a ”help yourself” place. It is not. This is due to Marcia’s personal nature. A hard working writer and journalist as she is, she does not favor being under the focus though she can be if it is necessary. The result is that you rather see her work more than her “self” and you get to meet others at her salon rather than only “Marcia”. If you want to know how this is usually hard, imagine yourself at your own real salon at home. Would you easily and warm- heartedly give the chance to others to play the host/hostess consequently get the credit for it?
From this post which she reluctantly let me write, I send a personal “hail” to Marcia Lynx’s and her outstanding literary salon: Marcia, an extremely large soul in a thin body and arablit.wordpress.com, a small place for thousands of people. In real life, we have hardly met. I can count the times on one hand, but virtually, we meet, with many others, every single day in her literary saloon and what we say remains in the heart and mind for the whole day.
Dr. Mona Elnamoury is a lecturer at the faculty of Arts, English Dept., Tanta University. She also teaches at the MSA in the faculty of Languages and Translation, and has translated Ursula LeGuin into Arabic. She also writes.