Mosaic Rooms: 10 Books to Celebrate 10 Years

London’s The Mosaic Rooms, which host and promote “contemporary culture from the Arab world,” is celebrating 10 years:

To celebrate The Mosaic Rooms’ 10th, the team shared 10 books from their 10 years of events, exhibitions, lectures, and films:

Compiled by Flora Bain and Angelina Radakovic, The Mosaic Rooms

1. Adonis: Selected Poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa

The poet Adonis showed his art works at The Mosaic Rooms 2012, in the same year as this volume selected poems, deftly translated by Khaled Mattawa, made the writings of one of our most significant poets more accessible to English-speaking audiences.

‘I live in longing, in fire, in rebellion, in the magic of its crafty poison.
My country is this spark, this lightening in the darkness of the time that remains’
(Adonis, “Nothing but Madness Remains” from “A Time Between Ashes and Roses” in Adonis: Selected Poems. Translation by Khaled Mattawa.)

2. Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi – Chapbook published by The Poetry Translation Centre

“Saddiq Al-Raddi’s poetry takes you on a journey,” says The Mosaic Rooms’ Angelina. “When I first heard him read at The Mosaic Rooms in 2012, his energy and spirit coupled with the audience participation from the Sudanese community at his readings, redefined to me what it means to listen, enjoy and truly appreciate poetry.”

A sail will never quench its thirst for the horizon – Al Saddiq Al-Raddi Garden Statues, Chapbook.

3. Hassan Everywhere – Hassan Hourani

The whimsical drawings in this book speak for themselves whether you speak Arabic or not. Hassan Everywhere is a book of writing and drawings by the late artist Hassan Hourani. It is a beautiful visual story in which you join Hassan to sit on rooftops and ride bicycles across magical landscapes. Hourani is also commemorated in the title of the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Hassan Hourani Young Artist of the Year Award.

4. Hrair Sarkissian – Background

Artist Hrair Sarkissian documents the sometimes fantastical, sometimes aging backdrops in photography shops across the Middle East in this ode to a disappearing trade, as studios close due to digital photography and a changing culture over photography in the middle-east. The book’s cover is the simple backdrop used by Sarkissian’s own father in his studio in Damascus. Sarkissian showed at The Mosaic Rooms in 2015.

5. Disoriental by Najar Djavadi, translated from French by Tina Kover

This witty and absorbing novel unfolds a family history, and through it, the story of modern Iran. Adroitly told by our narrator Kimiâ Sadr as she sits in a doctor’s waiting room, we move from the drama of her grandmother’s birth, to her politically impassioned parents imperilled in the wake of the revolution, to her wry observations of her contemporary immigrant experience in France.

6. Utopie – Samandal

This luscious volume by Lebanon based comic collective Samandal marks their 10th anniversary (and survival from censorship attempts which almost shut them down). Editor in chief Raphaelle Macaron presents a stunning line up of old and new artists. Her comic about her grandfather, one of the discoverers of Jeita cave, alongside strips by Samandal veterans Lena Merhej and Mazen Kerbaj. Litho printed and available in Arabic, French and English.

7. Raja Shehadah – Language of War, Language of Peace

A long-standing friend of The Mosaic Rooms Shehadah has spoken at the gallery and gave the annual Edward W. Said London Lecture in 2014. Lawyer and writer Shehadah’s eloquent voice cuts through the hyperbole to describe the predicaments and struggle of Palestinians in this fascinating volume through analysing the language and process of Israeli occupation.

8. Sarah Al-Hamad – Sun bread and sticky toffee

One of the first chefs to hold a supper-club at The Mosaic Rooms, this mouthwatering range of recipes all have dates as their central ingredient. From a 15th century custard (with saffron and date) to a Babylonian breakfast with almonds and star anise the book is an invitation to adventure for home cooks.

9. 24/7 – Jonathan Carey

Artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke found this book in The Mosaic Rooms bookshop, a resource for visiting artists and visitors. In an interview with Art Radar, Kaabi-Linke said “I must admit that Jonathan Crary’s book 24/7 had a huge influence on my life.”

Kaabi-Linke added:

He wrote that the most radical political resistance of our times would be to sleep more. Our economical and political systems would certainly collapse if anyone would sleep as much as needed. I took this to my heart and try my best to contribute to the big change of the system.

10. Our Men do Not Belong to Us – Warsan Shire

A compelling and emotionally visceral collection by poet and activist Warsan Shire. Shire led poetry workshops for The Mosaic Rooms with young people, drawing out their own voices. Shire crossed genres, reaching new readers when she wrote Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade in 2016.

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