Arabic Speculative Fiction at the New York Public Library

Registration opens today for a five-session course from Anna Boots at the New York Public Library (NYPL), titled “Arabic Speculative Fiction in English Translation”:

Boots developed the course along with NYPL’s Frank Collerius, who, she said, has noticed “a growing demand for books in translation amongst the patrons of the library.”

Boots said of the course:

I’m not a translator myself but I’m interested in the art of literary translation, especially from Arabic into English. I’ve studied Arabic for four years (during college, as a Fulbright scholar in Morocco, and during a two-year Master’s program in Middle Eastern Studies) and really developed a love for Arabic literature during that time, especially during my year studying with Sami Alkayam at Harvard. As I talked to translator friends, started reading the blog ArabLit, and listened to the BULAQ podcast, I joined the community of translation lovers who are shocked and surprised at how little translated literature reaches readers in the United States every year, especially from under-translated languages like Arabic. I think there’s a growing curiosity about Arabic literature amongst English-language readers in the U.S., and I wanted to teach this class in order to give New York readers a community in which to explore that together.

The course has just two required readings: Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette, and Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, translated by Jonathan Wright. Frankenstein in Baghdad also features in courses at the Fletcher Free Library in Vermont being taught this month.

Courses are free, and those interested can register at the second-floor desk. Books will be available at registration.


Wednesday, November 14

  • Frankenstein in Baghdad, Chapters 1-5 (pages 1-67)

(No class on Wednesday, November 21)

Wednesday, November 28

  • Frankenstein in Baghdad, Chapters 6-12 (pages 68-195)

Wednesday, December 5

  • Frankenstein in Baghdad, Chapters 13-19 (pages 196-281)

Wednesday, December 12

  • The Queue, Pages 1-100

Wednesday, December 19

  • The Queue, Pages 102-217

Find out more at the NYPL website. With gratitude to Boots for the shout-out.

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