Six new releases to read this summer:
On an Airplane
And Then God Created the Middle East and Said ‘Let There Be Breaking News,’ by Karl ReMarks (July 9)
Assembled from the tweets of satirist, commentator, and architect Karl Sharro, aka @karlreMarks, this book contains sections on ‘Geography for Dummies’, ‘Democracy for Realists,’ ‘Extremism: A Study’, and ‘Bar Jokes.’ Selections:
We’re actually very proud of God in the Middle East. He’s the local guy who went on to acquire international fame.
Wahahahahabism: A fundamentalist Middle Eastern comedy movement.
Twelve people just started to follow me. Jesus.
At a Protest
Shatila Stories, written by nine Syrian and Palestinian refugee writers and translated by Nashwa Gowanlock (June 18)
Peirene commissioned nine refugees to tell their stories about Shatila camp, and the result is this collaborative fiction.
The authors are: Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal Alalo, Safa Khaled Algharbawi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud, and Hiba Mareb, all of whom took part in a creative writing workshop run by Peirene in 2017 in the Shatila refugee camp.
From the publisher:
Adam and his family flee Syria and arrive at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Conditions in this overcrowded Palestinian camp are tough, and violence defines many of the relationships: a father fights to save his daughter, a gang leader plots to expand his influence, and drugs break up a family. Adam struggles to make sense of his refugee experience, but then he meets Shatha and starts to view the camp through her eyes.
Cigarette No. 7, by Donia Kamel, tr. Nariman Youssef (July 12)
Nadia, a young Egyptian woman tells the story of her life in succinct, vivid memories. From the menial, cooking with her grandmother, to the profound, being part of the Egyptian ‘revolution’ and participating in the sit-in in Tahrir Square. Nadia reflects on her childhood and adolescence in Egypt, her relationship to her family, in particular with her father. Nadia reflects on her memories, and the story displays their importance even those that seem particularly menial. Nadia’s recollection of her cautious participation in the revolution of 2011, a major event in Egypt’s modern history, reveals her thoughts and feelings about such a momentous event.
At the Beach
Marrakech Noir, ed. Yassin Adnan (August 7)
As Adnan warns in his charming introduction, this is an unusually joy and humor-filled noir collection, although it also has its share of murders, accidents, abuse, and theft.
Stories by Fatiha Morchid, Fouad Laroui, Taha Adnan, Mohamed Zouhair, Lahcen Bakour, Mahi Binebine, Halima Zine El Abidine, Hanane Derkaoui, Allal Bourqia, My Seddik Rabbaj, Abdelkader Benali, Mohamed Nedali, Mohamed Achaari, Karima Nadir, and Yassin Adnan.
Adnan should certainly edit collections more often.
Cult classics by Moroccan writer Ahmed Bouanani, now finally in English.
On The Shutters:
The Shutters collects the two most important poetry collections—”The Shutters” and “Photograms”—by the legendary Moroccan writer Ahmed
Bouanani. By intertwining myth and tradition with the familiar objects and smells of his lived present, Bouanani reconstructs vivid images of Morocco’s past. He weaves together references to the Second World War, the Spanish and French protectorates, the Rif War, dead soldiers, prisoners, and poets screaming in their tombs with mouths full of dirt. His poetry, written in an imposed language with a “strange alphabet,” bravely confronts the violence of his country’s history—particularly during the period of les années de plomb, the years of lead—all of which bears the brutal imprint of colonization.
And on The Hospital:
When I walked through the large iron gate of the hospital, I must have still been alive…” So begins Ahmed Bouanani’s arresting, hallucinatory 1989 novel The Hospital, appearing for the first time in English translation. Based on Bouanani’s own experiences as a tuberculosis patient, the hospital begins to feel increasingly like a prison or a strange nightmare: the living resemble the dead; bureaucratic angels of death descend to direct traffic, claiming the lives of a motley cast of inmates one by one; childhood memories and fantasies of resurrection flash in and out of the narrator’s consciousness as the hospital transforms before his eyes into an eerie, metaphorical space. Somewhere along the way, the hospital’s iron gate disappears.