Friday Finds: ‘The Village Idiot,’ by Majidah al-Outoum

A few days ago, Jordanian writer Hisham Bustani tweeted that he’d recently joined The Common as Arabic Fiction Editor, and there was “already a portfolio of short fiction by Jordanian authors, translated from Arabic,” in the magazine’s spring issue, published yesterday:

A preview was published at LitHub, where they write:

This portfolio celebrates some of the country’s best authors, showcasing a cross-section of varied styles, themes, and generations. It presents work by prominent writers such as Ghalib Halasa, Mahmoud al-Rimawi, and Elias Farkouh, along with established but lesser-known writers like Jamila Amaireh and Mufleh al-Odwan, and emerging writers like Majidah al-Outoum…and Haifa’ Abul-Nadi. Many of these writers are appearing in English translation for the first time.

The issue’s translations were done by Alice Guthrie, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Elisabeth Jaquette, and Maia Tabet.

The LitHub preview is Majidah al-Outoum’s “The Village Idiot,” tr. Guthrie. Al-Outoum has published two short story collections: Defeated Arms and You’re Really Late. In 2003, she won the Association of Jordanian Writers prize for best short story.

The story opens:

We awoke one morning to news of a death. The person we had lost was the one we used to call the Village Idiot—that buffoon who used to make us laugh and cry at the same time, that leaping, dancing ball of energy who would hurl himself around, wild with enthusiasm, stomping on our toes and crashing into us as he went gesticulating by.

Keep reading on LitHubThe issue can be ordered online, and it also includes art by Martha Rosler, Alaa Tawalbeh, and Rafik Majzoub, and an essay by Noor Naga.