5 To Look for in August 2018

Five books to look for in the last month of summer:


1. Marrakech Noir, ed. Yassin Adnan, various authors and translators (August 7, 2018)

As discussed in Bulaq episode 16. Noir stories from an often-joyful and sometimes slapstick Marrakesh, where social criticism almost always comes with humor.

2. Baghdad Noir, ed. Samuel Shimon, various authors and translators (August 7, 2018)

As discussed in Bulaq episode 10. Short stories set in Baghdad by a range of Iraqi and non-Iraqi writers, including a particularly enjoyable one by Iranian writer Salar Abdoh.

3. The Sea Cloak, by Nayrouz Qarmout, tr. Perween Richards (August 15, 2018)

From Comma Press:

‘The Sea Cloak’ is a collection of 14 stories by the author, journalist, and women’s rights campaigner, Nayrouz Qarmout. Drawing from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza, these stories stitch together a patchwork of different perspectives into what it means to be a woman in Palestine today.

4. The Law of Inheritance, by Yasser Abdellatif, tr. Robin Moger (August 15, 2018)

From Seagull:

A man emigrates from his Nubian village to the Cairo of the 1930s where Italisan fascists chase him through the streets and into a Maltese exile. Another man falls into religious esoterism and madness, spinning away from Cairo and back to the wasteland of a village. His son, who is adopted by another family and raised in Cairo, grows up thrice marginalized—as a foster-child, as a Nubian and as one who has had a ‘second-rate’ education. Meanwhile, university students fight security forces and binge on pills in the dysfunctional remnants of a centralized state . . . Nobody quite belongs in this Egypt, but nor do they belong anywhere else.

5. The Desert and the Drumby Mrbarek Ould Beyrouk, tr. Rachael McGill (August 24, 2018)

The Desert and the Drum, 2016 winner of the Ahmadou-Kourouma Prize, is apparently the first novel by a Mauritanian ever to be translated into English. From Daedalus:

Everything changes for Rayhana when foreigners with strange machines arrive to mine for metal near her Bedouin camp. One of them is the enigmatic Yahya. Rayhana’s association with him leads to her abandoning all she knows and fleeing alone to the city. When her tribe discover she’s stolen their sacred drum they pursue her to exact their revenge. Though Rayhana has her own missing person to seek.

The Desert and the Drum tells of Rayhana’s rift with her family, the disturbing characters she encounters in the metropolis, her attempts to separate friend from foe and to find a place for herself amidst the contradictions of contemporary Mauritania.

Also forthcoming, from a list-in-progress:


Sarab, by Raja Alem tr. Leri Price (September 1, 2018)

In the Spider’s Room, by Muhammad Abdelnabi, tr. Jonathan Wright (September 1, 2018)

States of Passionby Nihad Sirees, tr. Max Weiss (September 6, 2018)


War Songs, by ‘Antarah ibn Shaddad, tr. James E. Montgomery with Richard Sieburth (October 9, 2018)

Arabian Romantic: Poems on Bedouin Life and Love, by ‘Abdallah ibn Sbayyil, ed and trans Marcel Kurpershoek (October 9, 2018)

My Name is Adam, by Elias Khoury, tr. Humphrey Davies (October 11, 2018)

A Cloudy Day on the Western Shore, by Mohamed Mansi Qandil, tr. Barbara Romaine (October 15, 2018)

Printed in Beirut, by Jabbour Douaihy, tr. Paula Haydar (October 26, 2018)


Aladdin, edited by Paulo Lemos Hortatranslated by Yasmine Seale (November 2018)