Arab and Arabic Literatures at the 2016 Edinburgh Book Festival

A varied lineup of Arab and Arabophone authors at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, many part of the (unfortunately named) “Redrawing the Middle East” series:

ADAM MARS-JONES & HISHAM MATAR

Sat 13 Aug 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Garden Theatre

£12.00, £10.00

Adam Mars-Jones & Hisham Matar

FATHERS AND SONS

Two critically acclaimed novelists join us to discuss memoirs about their fathers. In Kid Gloves, Adam Mars-Jones describes life with a formidable high-court judge who felt like a stranger until the two were thrown together toward the end of his father’s life. Hisham Matar’s The Return reflects on his search for a father kidnapped and imprisoned in Libya many years before. Both books are tender and quietly heartbreaking. Chaired by Jane Fowler.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More on the event with Libyan novelist Hisham Matar here.

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SARAH ARDIZZONE & FAÏZA GUÈNE

Sun 14 Aug 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Writers’ Retreat

£8.00, £6.00

Sarah Ardizzone & Faïza Guène

VIBRANT VOICES OF PARIS

To call her character the ‘Bridget Jones of the banlieues’ (as Elle magazine did) is to misrepresent the political subtlety and bittersweet cultural insights of Faïza Guène’s novels on life in the Parisian suburbs for its French-Algerian communities. Thus proving how the qualities of novels can be lost in translation if not for the talents of translators like Sarah Ardizzone. Guène is joined by Ardizzone to discuss new novel Men Don’t Cry.

More on the event.

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ALAA AL ASWANY

Mon 15 Aug 10:15am – 11:15am

The Spiegeltent

£12.00, £10.00

Alaa Al Aswany

EGYPT: A DEVASTATING PORTRAIT

In 2002, The Yacoubian Building was an international bestseller, establishing Alaa Al Aswany as one of the Arab world’s most influential voices. Since then, Egypt has changed radically. However, Al Aswany’s new novel The Automobile Club of Egypt represents another satire on his country’s modern situation. Today he discusses his book and freedom of speech in a post-2011 Egypt whose government has tried to silence him.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More about the Alaa al-Aswany event.

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RAJA ALEM & ABIR MUKHERJEE

Wed 17 Aug 8:30pm – 9:30pm

Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre

£8.00, £6.00

Raja Alem & Abir Mukherjee

DEATH IN MECCA, DEATH IN CALCUTTA

Winner of the 2011 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Raja Alem is an exciting new voice in Arabic literature. In The Dove’s Necklace she describes the customs of Mecca from the intriguing perspective of a female Saudi author. Abir Mukherjee spent most of his childhood in Glasgow, but his award-winning Calcutta-set crime novel A Rising Man is an evocative portrait of India and the dark underbelly of British Raj. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.

More on the event with Saudi novelist Raja Alem.

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LEILA AL-SHAMI & ROBIN YASSIN-KASSAB

Thu 18 Aug 11:00am – 12:00pm

Garden Theatre

£12.00, £10.00

Leila Al-Shami & Robin Yassin-Kassab

HOW WE’RE FAILING SYRIA

Five years since Syrians took to the streets to demand the overthrow of the Assad regime, Syria has become the home of ISIS, and the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Robin Yassin-Kassab, a media commentator on Syria, and Leila Al-Shami, co-founder of a network that connects anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, have together written Burning Country, a grassroots perspective on the Syrian opposition movement.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More on the event.

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IMPRISONED WRITERS SERIES

Thu 18 Aug 5:30pm – 6:15pm

Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre

FREE: Tickets available from the Box Office on the day of the event

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

SYRIA: FEAR OF THE SKY

When bombs fall, volunteers in the Syrian Civil Defence come to the rescue. Known as White Helmets, these men and women risk their lives to save others, no matter which side they are on. When public emergency services still existed they were ordinary citizens, but now their bravery offers rare hope. Authors reading today include Jan Carson, Mostafa Salameh and Robin Yassin-Kassab.

More on the event.

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NADA AWAR JARRAR & GHASSAN ZAQTAN

Fri 19 Aug 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre

£8.00, £6.00

Nada Awar Jarrar & Ghassan Zaqtan

LOSS AND THE SCARS OF WAR

We’re honoured to present two authors offering personal reflections on the experiences of people displaced by war. Respected Lebanese novelist Nada Awar Jarrar discusses An Unsafe Haven, in which a woman’s world is deeply affected by an encounter with a Syrian refugee. Celebrated Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan presents his novella Describing the Past – a tale of childhood set in a hotbed of Palestinian resistance, the Karameh Refugee Camp.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More on the event.

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IMPRISONED WRITERS SERIES

Sat 20 Aug 5:30pm – 6:15pm

Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre

FREE: Tickets available from the Box Office on the day of the event

Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

SAUDI ARABIA: ASHRAF FAYADH AND RAIF BADAWI

Poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death in 2015 for apostasy. International pressure ensured the sentence was commuted but like blogger Raif Badawi, Ashraf still faces flogging and prison. Saudi Arabia beheads, imprisons or lashes citizens who dissent from the strict religious laws. Today’s event is chaired by Scottish PEN and authors reading include Bridget Minamore, Lucy Popescu, Philippe Sands and Anakana Schofield.

More about the reading for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, serving eight years (and 800 lashes) in a Saudi prison for his poetry, here.

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BEN EHRENREICH & YASIR SULEIMAN

Sun 21 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Garden Theatre

£12.00, £10.00

Ben Ehrenreich & Yasir Suleiman

PALESTINIANS’ QUEST FOR FREEDOM

Life in the Occupied Territories is frustrating and often humiliating. Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring is a searing, game-changing account of reality in the West Bank, and a furious, provocative testament to the futility of occupation. He is joined by Yasir Suleiman, whose touching book Being Palestinian presents over 100 testimonies from Palestinians of all backgrounds.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More on the event with Yasir Suleiman.

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AHMED AL-MALIK & RAPHAEL CORMACK

Sun 21 Aug 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Writers’ Retreat

£8.00, £6.00

Ahmed al-Malik & Raphael Cormack

COMPLEX, CURIOUS KHARTOUM

The Nile-straddling Sudanese capital Khartoum has long been a focal point for imperialism and rebellion. This boisterous but resolutely Arabic city is explored in a new anthology, The Book of Khartoum, featuring ten award-winning writers from Sudan. Expert in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies from Edinburgh University, Raphael Cormack is co-editor of the book, and he’s joined today by contributor Ahmed al-Malik.

Part of our Redrawing the Middle East series of events.

More about the event with editor-translator Raph Cormack and Sudanese writer Ahmed al-Malik. 

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AHMED AL-MALIK, LUCY POPESCU & BEN RAWLENCE WITH BIDISHA

Sun 21 Aug 5:45pm – 6:45pm

Garden Theatre

£12.00, £10.00

Ahmed al-Malik, Lucy Popescu & Ben Rawlence with Bidisha

ASYLUM FOUND

Bidisha continues her study of migration. Sudan-born writer Ahmed al-Malik fled to the Netherlands in 1989 after his novella was seized by the regime it criticised, from where he writes about Khartoum’s recent history. Writer and critic Lucy Popescu discusses her refugee work and her powerful anthology of fiction and non-fiction, A Country of Refuge. With City of Thorns, Ben Rawlence offers an insight into the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Kenya, a place he spent four years getting to know.

More on the event.

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TAHAR BEN JELLOUN & IRENOSEN OKOJIE

Sun 28 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Garden Theatre

£12.00, £10.00

Tahar Ben Jelloun & Irenosen Okojie

THE MOTHER OF ALL STORIES

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Morocco’s greatest living author, presents a compelling novelisation of his mother’s life, newly translated into English. About My Mother beautifully and tenderly tells the story of her descent into dementia. Meanwhile, Irenosen Okojie’s Butterfly Fish is an astonishingly assured debut novel about a mother whose death leaves a striking legacy and a route into the history of Nigeria and ancient Benin.

More on the event.

Also: Jack Shenker will be speaking about his new book, The Egyptians: A Radical Story, on April 18. Details here.

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Categories: events

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