Arab-lit Events at Hay Festival, Shubbak

The central Hay Festival (May 23 – June 2), which takes places in a tented village in Hay-on-Wye, will be starting later this week. The Hay, which began in Wales but has spread to a number of other cities, including Beirut, calls itself — citing Bill Clinton — “The Woodstock of the mind”:

There are few Arab-lit events. I would particularly recommend the talk by Syrian novelist Samar Yazbek.

logoMay 26, 1 p.m. (Google’s Big Tent)

Sex and the Citadel

Lebanese poet Joumana Haddad (Superman is an Arab, I Killed Sheherezade) and scientist Shereen el-Feki (Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World) talk gender and power.

May 27, 2:30 p.m. (Digital Stage)

Writing Revolution

Activist Layla al-Zubaidi, photojournalist Matthew Cassel, and Libyan novelist Mohamed Mesrati talk about the best writing on Arab revolutions.

June 1, 11:30 a.m. (Digital Stage)

Fictions – The Yellow Birds

Poet and former US soldier in Iraq Kevin Powers talks about his novel, set in Iraq, The Yellow Birds.

June 2, 10 a.m. (Digital Stage)

The View from Here

Novelist and commentator Samar Yazbek talks about new writing in the Arab world.


Later in the summer, the Shubbak Festival, which bills itself as a “window on the Arab world,” will take place in and around London from June 22 – July 6.

shubbak miniJune 27, 6:45 p.m. (Asia House)

Contemporary Arab Fiction – Jana Elhassan and Mohammed Hassan Alwan

Two novelists shortlisted for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction  talk about their novels and the contemporary Arabic-lit scene.

June 28, 1 p.m. (ICA, The Studio)

New Voices from Gaza

Ali Abukhattab and Samah al-Sheikh discuss their work as writers and promoters of new literature; they will discuss “contemporary literary practices of Gaza’s young creative generation.”

June 28, 7 p.m. (Rich Mix)

Writing Revolution: The Voices from Tunis to Damascus

If you didn’t see Libyan novelist Mohamed Mesrati at Hay, you can see him with Tunisian blogger Malek Sghiri, discussing the new book Writing Revolution.

July 1, 6:30 (Foyles Bookshop)

The Lady from Tel Aviv

The Arab British Centre will be celebrating the English translation (Elliott Colla) of Rabai al-Madhoun’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction-shortlisted novel, The Lady from Tel Aviv.

July 4, 7 p.m. (TBC)

Continuous City: Mapping Arab London’s Literary Scene

Features a tribute to Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih and a roundtable discussion “with leading figures of London’s literary community.”