Although some films are just a watered-down, punched-up version of the novel that inspired them, films (or TV series) and novels can have a powerful artistic chemistry:
Three great novelists will soon have books made into films. Sonallah Ibrahim recently allowed the very successful TV adaptation of his novel Zaat, and now his Honor also will be made into a movie by Egyptian director Samir Nasr.
Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy and director Ahmad Abdalla are meanwhile reuniting for an adaptation of award-winning Lebanese writer Rabee Jaber’s second novel, Black Tea (1995). Hefzy is apparently seeking Lebanese and French partners for the film.
And according to The Daily Star Lebanon, Samira Kawas is working on a new project based on acclaimed Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf’s Ports of Call.
“We are putting the finishing touches on the script,” Kawas told The Daily Star. “We did our best to stay true to Maalouf’s beautiful story and characters, but we only changed what’s necessary to meet drama requirements.”
Of the three, only Maalouf’s novel has been translated into English.
I’ve intended to make a list of some of the best Arabic novel-film pairs for some time, and I suppose today is as good a day as any to begin. Criteria: It must be both a good book and a good film, not one or the other. Please add your suggestions (or criticism) in the comments. Or email them, or tweet them at @arablit:
Nightingale’s Prayer, inspired by Taha Hussein’s Nightingale’s Prayer. This has never been properly translated.
Kit Kat, inspired by Ibrahim Aslan’s The Heron. This has been translated by Elliott Colla and is available from AUCP.
The Dupes, inspired by Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun, trans. Hilary Kilpatrick, published by Lynne Reiner.
Chitchat on the Nile, inspired by Naguib Mahfouz’s Adrift on the Nile, translated by Frances Liardet.
Gate of the Sun, inspired by Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun, translated by Humphrey Davies.
The Collar and the Bracelet, inspired by Yahya Tahir Abdallah’s The Collar and the Bracelet, translated by Samah Selim and published by AUCP.