At Shubbak Festival 2015: The Rise of Arabic Literature in English?

If you’re in London, or can get there, synchronize your calendar with these events — revealed yesterday — which are running July 11-25 in the city’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture:

shubbakThe Shubbak Festival, founded in 2011, ran again in 2013, and will see its third iteration this summer. Two years ago, festival organizers say, Shubbak “presented over 55 events, spread across 42 venues, attracting an audience of over 50,000 people.”

This year aims to be even bigger, with more than 60 events spread out across London over the course of the two-week festival.

Literary events range widely, with high-profile novelists (a few: Samar Yazbek, Sinan Antoon, Ahmed Saadawi, Atef Abu Saif, Ali al-Muqri, and the two headliners, Hoda Barakat and Elias Khoury), poets like Antoon, Choman Hardi, Mourid Barghouti, Ghareeb Iskander, as well as scholars, translators, and others.

There will also be a range of genres. The festival will host a discussion of Arabic science fiction similar to those showcased at LonCon 3 and the 2013 and 2014 Nour Festivals, as well as a children’s-literature workshop, a talk on experimental forms, and engagements with graphic novelling.

If you’re over 12, you certainly won’t want to miss out on a workshop with Lebanese artist Lena Merhej, author of Another Year and Yogurt and Jam, or How My Mom Became Lebanese, where you can experiment with making a bilingual comic.

There is also an event called “The Rise of Arabic Literature in English?“, with its skeptical question mark, at which I will be speaking. Indeed, there are five of us, and it’s not clear how everyone will get a word in.

In any case, if you can make it, you should. To properly synchronize your calendar, see the whole listing of this year’s events at