Book-to-screen: New This Ramadan

At least two book-to-screen projects are being launched Ramadan 2016:

saqalbambooThe novel The Bamboo Stalk (Saq al-Bamboo), winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, is a bi-cultural coming-of-age that takes place between Kuwait and the Philippines. The novel, by young writer Saud Alsanousi, explores identity, religion, human rights, discrimination, nationality, and the role of stateless people in Kuwaiti society. It’s been released in a smooth English translation by Jonathan Wright.

According to a review in The Nationalthe Ramadan serial skips over Jose/Issa’s childhood in the Philippines, heading directly toward his attemps to integrate in Kuwait. The lead is played by Korean comedian Wonho Chung, and his iron-fisted grandmother by Kuwaiti actress Souad Abdullah.

The novel offers a complex and critical portrait of Kuwait; hopefully, the serial can echo this. Er, without being quite so echoey as this trailer.

Saq al-Bamboo is airing on MBC Drama; you can watch previous episodes on


Naguib Mahfouz’s 1981 novella The Wedding Song (Afrah al-Qobba) has also been made into a drama this Ramadan. It’s hard to know how Mahfouz’s point-of-view-shifting psychological drama, which focuses not on forward action, but on how individual characters apprehead the same events, will be set to film.

The Wedding Song was translated into English by Olive Kenny and edited by John Rodenbeck.

In any case, the project stars Mona Zaki.