There are several new Arabic literary works that have appeared online (in translation) in the last month:
The discussions of Mahmoud Azzam’s Ascension to Death have already happened in Cairo and NYC, but you can still read an excerpt online, trans. the unstoppable Max Weiss, and share your thoughts on the And Other Stories website.
“Freefall in a Shattered Mirror,” by Hisham Bustani, trans. Thoraya El-Rayyes
“Lying suspended over a lake. She can see her entire self on the surface of the water. Every now and then circles appear and expand, distorting the image. At times she looks at her reflection with sadness, at times she chokes with bitterness and tries to escape, to turn over or stand in the air. But it’s no use, she is totally fixed—as if fastened with unseen ropes.” Keep reading.
“Conjunctions,” by Nagi Al-Badawi, trans. Max Shmookler and Najlaa Eltom
“Doves flying on a horizon of signs and metaphors. I can never hear the word “doves,” nor think of it unexpectedly, without picturing them flying as if they were the horizon’s capricious whim, their movements vexing me every time I approached from a distance. Their exact number did not live long in my memory. I used to count the doves hovering in pairs, like married couples, over the playground that I cut across on my way home from school. I only felt the playground’s vastness when I walked through with empty pockets, having spent my last penny on sunflower seeds or ice cream and then hit the road in the company of my friends.” Keep reading.
“The Situation,” by Adel Gassas, trans. Max Shmookler and Najlaa Eltom
“You’re certain that nothing will dissuade you now. Nothing. Not your neighbors’ invitation to the luncheon to celebrate their boys’ circumcision, not the kind old lady’s pleading to help her write a letter to her faraway son who never visits, not the laughter of your three-year-old boy (whose laughter, you would say, sounds like a gurgling stomach). Not the mischievous way he clung to the collar of your jallebeya when you saw him outside just a few moments ago with his mother (who was, as always, chomping away on a stick of gum) on their way to visit the neighbors. Nothing. Nothing will dissuade you.” Keep reading.
“Isolation,” by Sabah Babiker Ibraheem Sanhouri, trans. Max Shmookler and Najlaa Eltom
“It’s hot, hot enough to suffocate. There is nothing except this table upon which I sleep, a rectangular hall with four doors and twelve windows. On each side a door. On the shorter sides, two windows, each with a door between them, and on the longer sides, two windows to the left of the door and two to the right.” Keep reading.
You can also read the introduction to these short stories, by Shmookler, on WWB: “Biting their Mother Tongue: Three Sudanese Short Stories about Estrangement“
Abdul Wahhab Al-Bayati’s “A Man And A Woman,” trans. A.Z. Foreman
The snow falls on the house’s chimney
Now, in the hall of mirrors
There is a woman waiting
A man smitten in her blood
Ploughs her body’s blooming fields Keep reading.
Three early poems by Albert Cossery, trans. (from the French) by Jocelyn Spaar. From “The Beggars”:
Along a sad wall, at the end of an old quarter,
Like puppets wanting strings,
Poor ragged ones expose in broad daylight
Their countless tatters to the cruel vermin.