Jordanian author-blogger Fadi Zaghmout and translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp are set to launch the English translation of Zaghmout’s debut in a tour subtitled “Sexual Freedoms and Body Rights in the Middle East”:
It’s an eye-catching subtitle, promising a discussion not just of Zaghmout’s fast-paced first novel, The Bride of Amman, but also about sex in Jordan and beyond. Indeed, Zaghmout’s novel is well-suited to a talk about sexual freedoms and body rights: It’s part storytelling, part manifesto, and steeped in a confessional blog culture.
“In the Middle East” overpromises — The Bride of Amman is a book set in middle-class Jordan, not Haifa or Ankara, Sana’a or Cairo or Marrakesh. But it is a forceful discussion about sex and the body in contemporary Amman, and Zaghmout has not shied from using it as a launching-point of discussion about other issues.
As ArabLit has previously discussed, Nadia Muhanna, on her blog, wrote about an interview with Zaghmout on Jordanian TV several months after the book’s release. His interviewer referred to a gay character in the novel as shaz, an offensive term. Zaghmout corrected the presenter, using the term muthley. “By the end of the interview,” Muhanna writes, “the presenter was using ‘LGBT-friendly language.’”
Just as he did an expert job steering the book’s release in Arabic, he will now appear — along with Ahmedzai Kemp –at events in London, Oxford, Bristol, Cheltenham and Brighton. Hopefully he will do just as firm a job at steering audiences away from an oversimplified, Peeping-Tom view of sex and the Other.
In London and Brighton, author and translator will appear with journalist Brian Whitaker, author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East.
Details of the five events:
The Suffolk Anthology bookshop, Cheltenham – 7pm, Mon 9 November
The Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford – 5pm, Tuesday 10 November
The Arts House Café, Bristol – 7pm, Wed 11 November
Gay’s the Word bookshop, London, with Brian Whitaker – 7pm, Thurs 12 November
Waterstones, Brighton, with Brian Whitaker – 7.30pm, Fri 13 November