Friday Finds: Jan Dost, Waciny Laredj, Alaa Hlehel

The relatively new “Short Story Project” has already published several translations from Arabic, including works by Jan Dost, Waciny Laredj, and Alaa Hlehel:

Syrian Kurdish novelist Jan Dost, who writes in both Kurdish and Arabic — and translates his own work — may have been translated to English, here, for the first time. His “A Handful of Dirt,” translated by Adam Talib, opens:

As soon as he saw his friend, who had just arrived from back home, in the airport arrivals lounge, he asked him, “Did you bring it?”

Acclaimed Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj — who has three times been on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist, but never the shortlist — but has not yet had a full-length work translated to English. According to ArabLit’s Algeria editor Nadia Ghanem, “One of Waciny Laredj’s novels (The Butterly Kingdom) was announced in English translation from the Arabic last year, and although I list it here I have not yet seen further announcement or a copy.”

His “Deception or Dreams of the Man Who Didn’t Lose His Shadow,” translated by Raphael Cohen, opens:

Was it merely deception or something more?

The paths were so exhausting, and the days were so hard!

Wouldn’t it have been better to take the short-cuts?

Nothing is of any use now. All that matters is that he’s home at last, and his eyes have embraced the sea after an arduous journey of which he recollects little, and that took up two ages of his life.

Nothing has changed. Everything is just the way you left it when you were dragged from this world.

Knock on the door now. It’s all over. Knock!

Alaa Hlehel — who also is yet to have a full-length book in English translation, although his Au Revoir, Akka should be coming soon — has two stories on The Short Story Project, both translated by Raphael Cormack, “Scandal” and “My Husband the Bus Driver.

The latter opens:

My Husband is a bus driver. He has been for thirty years or more. I met him when he was 24 and he had just finished driving school in the city. On his ID card they had written next to “Occupation”, “Bus Driver”. These words, along with the picture of his handsome face, were enough to trap me in the marital cage that he had built in our lovely, remote village.

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