Al-Shidyaq’s Classic ‘Leg Over Leg’ for the Masses

When the first volume of Humphrey Davies’ translation of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s wide-ranging, sharp-eyed, autobiographical-with-a-side-of-farce Leg Over Leg was released in 2013, it was received with surprise and interest outside the world of Arabic literature specialists:

Leg_over_legIndeed, the four volumes created a small sensation, mostly in the world of translated-literature aficionados. There were Humprhey Davies interviews, a long review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, a mention in the New York Times Review of Books, and an excerpt in The White Review. Moreover, the first volume of Leg Over Leg made last year’s “Best Translated Book Award” longlist, with prize judge M.A. Orthofer calling it “the most important literary publication of a translation into English, in terms of literary history and our understanding of it, in years.”

Still, the book wasn’t exactly released for mass consumption: It was in the Library of Arabic Literature’s standard bilingual, facing-page format, with its standard blue cover. If that wasn’t enough to scare off the casual subway reader, the price tag might.

But now the LAL has released cover images from four new volumes to be released as English-only paperbacks, including Leg Over Leg, to be released as two paperbacks, at right and below.

The other two are The Expeditions: An Early Biography of Muhammad and The Epistle on Legal Theory: A Translation of Al-Shafii’s RisalahYou can pre-order them through the LAL website and find larger versions of the covers on Tumblr.