5 Books: Arabic Literature at the 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival

In addition to events by acclaimed Anglophone Arab authors such as Leila Aboulela and Layla AlAmmar, there will be at least four Arabic-focused events at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, all featuring authors with books recently published in translation:

1. Nayrouz Qarmout’s The Sea Cloak, tr. Perween Richards, is set for publication August 22. This is Qarmout’s second visit to the Scottish festival; this year, the Gazan author talks to novelist Kamila Shamsie about both her writing and her work for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. According to the festival, this is only Qarmout’s second trip out of Gaza since she moved there, having been born in a refugee camp in Damascus. Qarmout’s work can also be found in The Book of Gaza: A City in Short Fictioned. Atef Abu Saif.

2. Jokha al-Harthi’s Celestial Bodiestr. Marilyn Booth, was winner of this year’s Man Booker International. According to Edinburgh organizers, “Alharthi joins us to discuss her path to success as well this work of incredible depth, which follows the lives of three sisters in the village of al-Awafi through heartbreak, marriage and duty with tenderness and subtlety. Expect an enlightening introduction to Omani literature from the winner of one of the world’s most prestigious awards.”

3. Mazen Maarouf’s Jokes for the Gunmen, tr. Jonathan Wright, was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker International, and Maarouf is also billed as the “foremost translator of Icelandic literature into Arabic,” although that’s not a tremendously crowded field. He’ll speak with Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist David Szalay.

4 & 5: Also appearing is Gulnar Hajo, who has two books newly out in Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp’s translation: The Dot  and Nour’s Escape, written by Abir Ali and illustrated by Hajo. She appears at an event on illustrations in translation, where she join’s the festival’s illustrator-in-residence Eilidh Muldoon; Taiwanese creator of Everyone Can Draw, Fifi Kuo; and Kasia Matyjaszek, Polish illustrator of a series of stories about a pirate-girl, Molly Rogers.

More on the festival and how to buy tickets at www.edbookfest.co.uk.