Banipal 54’s ‘Echoes’: History, Fiction, and Science Fiction

Banipal’s final issue of 2015 — Echoes: 54 — promises to sitaute readers between history and fiction (and science fiction):

54The issue is a bit of a hodgepodge, but, flipping through, there are a number of highlights, including an excerpt from Ibtisam Azem’s The Book of Disappearance, trans. Sinan Antoon; thirteen poems by Emad Fouad, trans. Camilo Gómez-Rivas; a special section on Iraqi playwright and director Jawad al-Assadi which features Baghdadi Bathhouse, a play trans. Hassan Abdulrazzak; and a futuristic guest section with glimpses of our future cities by Rawi Hage (The Wave), Boualem Sansal (2030, The City of the Future), and others.

There’s also a tribute to Gamal al-Ghitani (1945-2014), by Paul Starkey, ahead of the live tribute to al-Ghitani in Cairo, set for Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in Oriental Hall on the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Campus.

This may be the first time there has been a translated theatre excerpt in a Banipal. As Margaret Obank’s opening editorial note remarks, “We are always being asked why Banipal hasn’t published plays, with the genre a vital part of world literary production, and in this issue the growing enthusiasm for the 3D art of dramatic dialogue is now answered with the first full English translation of the revised script of the successful play Baghdadi Bathhouse by Jawad al-Assadi, the distinguished Iraqi playwright and theatre director.”

However, strangely, Baghdadi Bath is one of the few Iraqi plays that has been rendered and published in English translation, by Robert Myers and Nada Saab, with a preface by Myers. This translation was performed in English in NYC and even reviewed in the New York Times. Certainly, a comparison with Abdulrazzak’s translation would be interesting.

A fuller table of contents of issue 54 can be found on the Banipal website.

It’s available now, digitally, from Exact Editions.