May 2016: Global Arab and Arabic Literary Events Calendar

Arab and Arabic literary events in some form of translation. Add your own by emailing or post them below.

May 1

Where Ahmed Naji should be sitting at the Arabic Novel Symposium.
Where Ahmed Naji should be sitting at the Arabic Novel Symposium.

Symposium on the Arabic Novel (Beirut, Lebanon)

“Ashkal Alwan is organizing the first Symposium on Arabic Novel in Beirut from April 29th through May 2nd, 2016.

“This four-day literary symposium is part of Ashkal Alwan’s systematic efforts to approach contemporary shifts within the Arabic language by looking at its literature, narrative, idiomatic as well as communicative instruments. ”

The symposium continues through May 2 and there is limited livestreaming. Details here.

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

The fair continues through May 3. Details here.

May 5

Books in Motion: Exploring Concepts of Mobility in Cross-Cultural Studies of the Book (Beirut, Lebanon)

“‘Books in Motion: Exploring Concepts of Mobility in Cross-Cultural Studies of the Book’ is a three-day conference that explores new perspectives in the study of the book. The conference considers the varied inter-disciplinary approaches to studies of mobility in relation to books, specifically the ways in which these objects traverse spatial, temporal, cultural, and material boundaries.”

Through May 7. Details here. 

May 6

This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World (London, England)

At the British Library. Details here.

May 12


Excerpted from an email to all PEN centres:

“As many of you know, on 20 February 2016 Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison for ‘violating public modesty’ in relation to the publication of excerpts from his 2014 novel Istikhdam al-Haya (The Use of Life) in Akhbar al-Adab magazine. PEN International called for his immediate release.

“To keep Naji’s case in the public spotlight, PEN International is supporting the International Day of Readings for Ahmed Naji.

“We suggest that events have a speaker to highlight Ahmed’s case & the situation of writers and others in Egypt as well as a reading from a translation of the novel excerpt, as well as other writings by Naji. We also encourage PEN Centres to hold additional discussions and meetings on Naji’s case.”

Details at or email mlynxqualey – at –

Turin Book Fair: Focus on Arabic Literature (Turin, Italy)

Runs through May 16. Participants include Sinan Antoon, Magdy El Shafee, Ghazi Makhoul, Alessandra Marchi, Nabil Salameh, Mohammad Shennawy, and May Telmissany Details here and for the event on the 14th here.

May 13

Voci arabe: Cairo off. Incontro con Muhammad Aladdin (Turin, Italy)

Details here.

May 15

Nakba Day, “Registered Alive” with Maxine Peake, Ahmed Masoud & more (London, England)

“The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre would like to invite you to a special evening on Sunday 15th May to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Nakba curated by Palestinian writer and director Ahmed Masoud and entitled على قيد الحياة (registered alive).” Details here.

May 19

The Common in the City 2016: A Celebration of Contemporary Arabic Fiction! (NYC, USA)

Join The Common for a night of drinks, canapés, and performed readings from the special spring issue, Tajdeed: Contemporary Arabic Stories in Translation. Details here.

May 20

Conflict, Identity, and Migration: Writers Confront World Chaos (Beirut, Lebanon)

With Max Lobè, Hyam Yared, Madeleine Thien, Kerry Young, Najwa Barakat, Mohammad al-Fakharani, Arno Bertina, Hakan Gunday and François Beaune. Details here. 

May 26

‘Who Are You, Nadja?’ Unsi al-Hajj and the Encounter of Arabic Literature with Surrealism (Beirut, Lebanon)

“When the Lebanese poet Unsī al-Ḥājj (1937–2014) adopted the program of Surrealism in the late 1950s, identifying himself with the most radical figures of the Parisian movement (Antonin Artaud and André Breton, among others), he was not unaware of the implications of such a mission.” Details here.

May 31

The Long Ninth Century in Arabic-Islamic Knowledge and Culture (Berlin, Germany)

With Beatrice Gründler and Julia Bray. Details here.