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


  1. I have incorporated a good deal of Arab literature in my English writings: essays, researches and books; so, if you wish to receive a list of my works, just write me: and I will be glad to oblige.

  2. Salam, my name is Qasim, from last 26+ years Allah and Muhammad s.a.w keep coming into my dreams, over 460+ times Allah comes in my dreams and 250+ times Mohammad s.a.w comes in my dreams, Muhammad S.A.W is the last Messenger of Allah and i am the Ummati of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W, many dreams related to Muslim Ummah, World and the Judgment Day, I have shared few dreams on my fb

    1. Allah Almighty never visits His servants in their dreams. You can investigate this truth if you have any doubt about it. Doubt is the path towards conviction and certitude.

      1. read it hope u will understand a bit about my dreams.

        Its happened with me, from last 26+ years Allah and Muhammad s.a.w keep coming into my dreams, over 460+ times Allah comes in my dreams and 250+ times Mohammad s.a.w comes in my dreams, when I was about 12 years old I saw first time Allah and Mohammad s.a.w both in dream, after that in 93 when I was 17 years old Allah and Mohammad s.a.w starts coming continuously in my dreams and still Allah and Muhammad s.a.w coming into my dreams.

        Muhammad s.a.w is the last Messenger of Allah and its my Imaan Mohammad s.a.w is the last Prophet of Allah and I am the Ummati of Muhammad s.a.w

        In 2007 Allah and Mohammad s.a.w starts teaching me in dreams what u have to do and what u have not to do, Mostly Allah and Muhammad s.a.w told me to avoid from all type of form of shirk and in april-2014 Allah and Mohammad s.a.w start to telling me in dreams qasim share your dreams to everyone than I started to share my dreams to my family members, friends and some other people, I also share my dreams through email to Pak Army official sites, Pak Govt sites, Pakistan’s big name people, and many Islamic Countries official websites but seems like no one was believing on me and my dreams they all ignore me, after that I stopped sharing my dreams.

        Dec-2014 Mohammad s.a.w comes twice time in dream in a night and told me “qasim you should have to share ur dreams to everyone to save Pakistan to save Islam” I got confused I talked my self I share my dreams to many people and they are not believing on it what should I do more? and then Peshawar school got attacked and then I think and decided to share my dreams on Internet forums, but still people not believing on me and my dreams.

        Let me clear I am a simple person I am not a religious person, clean shaved, did not praying regularly, no tahajjud I just tell the truth to everyone and I didnot lie, I dont know why Allah and Mohammad s.a.w keeps coming into my dreams.

        I didnot look at Allah I just feel in my dreams Allah is on Arsh and voice coming from there or I saw Noor(light) and voice comming from Noor(light) or Allah talk to me from the sky. I didnot look at Mohammad s.a.w face I can see Mohammad s.a.w Body, in one dream I hug with Muhammad s.a.w and my whole body witness me that u r huging with Mohammad s.a.w I shake hands many times with Mohammad s.a.w in dreams and my hand witness me that u r shaking hand with Mohammad s.a.w.

        In 1994 Allah talked to me in dream from the sky I still remember those words I try to translate it in English “qasim which promises I make with you one day I will full fill my promises and if I cant full fill my promises I will not the Lord of the whole universe”

        From that day I start waiting for the Allah and I didnot lose my hope but whenever I about to lose my hope Allah or Mohammad s.a.w comes into my dreams and told me like that “Sabbrun Jameel qasim” , “qasim only Non-Muslim loses their hope” , “qasim Muslim cant be lose his hope”.

        I saw many other Nabi and Rasool in dreams but I only look at Suleiman A.S face. I saw Esa A.S in my dreams many times.

        In many dreams Allah and Mohammad s.a.w guided me which is the right path.

        In many dreams Allah told me qasim go and turns the world into light as the world in the darkness.

        Many dreams related to my personal life many dreams related to Pakistan/Muslim world and the whole world but its start from Pakistan and many dreams related to Qiammah(the judgment day).

        Allah and Muhammad s.a.w told me many times in dreams qasim one day you will get out the Whole Muslim Ummah from the darkness and then even the whole world and one day the whole world will become peaceful. but its starts from Pakistan.

        In few dreams i saw when whole world will become peaceful a man coming from somewhere else and try to destroy the world peace.

        In few dreams I saw Esa A.S(Jesus a.s) coming from the sky and Yajooj Majooj (gog magog) come out and spread the whole world and I with very few people join the Esa A.S(Jesus a.s) and then we live with Esa A.S …..

        In Feb 2015 Allah told me in dream qasim u will be the last Ummati of Muhammad s.a.w who will die on this earth. means after my death there will b no Muslim left on the earth but only bad people, and Qiyamah will establish on them.

        In another dream Allah told me qasim I(Allah) will full fill my all promises within next 13 years which I (Allah) makes with you.

        In Feb 2015 Muhammad s.a.w told me in dream “qasim my son dont lose ur hope u r very close to ur destiny Allah is helping u, my son just wait a little more.

        1993 when dreams starts I make a note book and I note my dreams on that note book how much time Allah comes in dreams and how much time Mohammad s.a.w comes in my dreams but few years back I lost that note book during the shifting. total drams are more than 800+ I still remember many many dreams.

        Many people told me you are mentally ill or its shaitan, that is why u are seeing these dreams. I confirmed it to many people I am not mentally ill and its not shaitaan. I believe Allah and Mohammad s.a.w and They are coming in my dreams, I am still unable to understand why Allah wanted it from me to share my dreams to others? maybe there is a big message in my dreams.

        Many years back in one dream Allah told me qasim before sleep read last 3 Qull and then sleep so shaitaan stay away from you, and I am doing this from last many years.

        Allah told me in many dreams like that “qasim one day I will help u and will give u the success and I will full fill my all promises even if the only one day left from Qiyammah (the judgment day) and the whole world will see your success” , but
        Allah didnot told me when that day will come, and I am waiting for Allah from last 20 years.

        Its a long long journey for me and still I am waiting for Allah I didnot losses my hope from last 20 years and dont know when and how I will reach to my destiny, I dont even know what is my destiny, only Allah knows better.



  3. I wonder if you have any material about my absolute favorite Arab writer, Abdul Rahman Munif, who wrote the ‘Cities of Salt’ trilogy? I only read English, and these novels were translated a long time ago. The trilogy moved me to such an extent that he is one of my very favorite writers.

      1. Thank you for the excellent article on Abdul Rahman Munif as well as the article by Peter Theroux responding to Updike.
        I doubt anyone gave a clearer picture of what the discovery of oil meant to the people of Saudi Arabia than Munif did in the first two volumes of the Cities of Salt trilogy. I can see why the Saudi government took away his citizenship, because he was telling the hard truth about a disgusting situation. Isn’t that what a novelist is supposed to do?
        It is a real shame that not all of the work by one of the great modern novelists has yet been translated into English. My opinion of John Updike goes way down, although I wasn’t much enamored of Updike’s fiction before. John Updike could only wish to write as strong novels as Abdul Rahman Munif. I do like Mahfouz but he is not in the same league as Munif when it comes to writing powerful novels.
        Peter Theroux’s translations of the first two Cities of Salt novels must have been excellent, because these novels have had a profound impact on my life.
        Perhaps you could give me the names of other great Arabic novels along the lines of Cities of Salt that have been translated?

        1. Along the lines of which aspect/s of Cities of Salt? It’s world-building, its socio-political insight, its epic scope?

          1. I was particularly impressed with Munif’s social-political insight. I’d like to find other good Arab novels that may have gotten their writers in trouble with the political leadership.

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