If you’re at the University of Texas (Austin), then lucky you:
The UT Austin has managed to attract Hoda Barakat as the inaugural scholar for the Department of Middle Eastern Studies’ new Arabic Scholar in Residence program for fall 2013.
Barakat is a highly acclaimed author — her Tiller of Waters, which won the 2000 Mahfouz Medal, was mentioned by two contributors to our “5 Books to Read Before You Die” list; her Kingdom of this Earth was longlisted for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction; her Stone of Laughter won the al-Naqid Prize — and has been living and writing in Paris since 1989.
Barakat was born in the Lebanese town of Bsharre, where her most recent novel is set. Bsharre is also known as “Gibran Khalil Gibran’s village,” as it’s the place of that famous poet’s birth. Barakat lived there until she moved to Beirut to study French literature. After graduation, she moved to Paris to work on a PhD, but returned when Lebanon’s civil war began, and there worked as a teacher, translator, and journalist — falling in love with and marrying a Muslim at the height of the war — and then returning, with her two sons, to Paris in 1989. That’s when she began to publish her major works: Hajar al-Dahik (The Stone of Laughter, 1990/1998), Ahl el-Hawa (People of Love, 1993/2006), Harit al-miyah (The Tiller of Waters 2000/2004), Sayyidi wa Habibi (My Master and My Beloved, 2004).
Her most recent novel was Kingdom of this Earth (2012), which was longlisted for the 2013 IPAF. Starting at 3:00 on this video, Clément Massé talks about the novel, which is out in French as well as its original Arabic.
A brief excerpt of Kingdom of this Earth (2012):
English-language interviews with Barakat:
With Suneela Mubayi, in 2012 (specifically about Kingdom)
Barakat talking about her choices for “Finnegan’s List,” of under-translated or underappreciated works: