Among the 2019 residents of the University of Iowa’s prestigious International Writing Program are two authors from the Maghreb: Moroccan poet and novelist Soukaina Habiballah and Algerian novelist and dramatist Amira-Géhanne Khalfallah:
Since 1967, over 1,500 writers from more than 150 nations have taken part in the IWP’s fall residency, including Palestinian poet and Beirut39 laureate Najwan Darwish, popular Egyptian novelists Ghada Abdel-Aal and Khaled al-Khamissi, and celebrated Syrian novelists Nihad Sirees and Khaled Khalifa, among many others.
This year, two IWP residents come from neighboring Maghrebi nations.
Moroccan poet and novelist Soukaina Habiballah was born in Casablanca in 1989. She has authored four poetry collections and one novel, The Barracks (2016), and has a second novel forthcoming yet this year. Habiballah’s work has appeared in translation in Words Without Borders, with additional translations into French, English, German, and Spanish. She has received a number of awards, including the 2015 Buland Al Haidari Prize for Arabic poetry and the 2019 Nadine Shams Prize for Arab Screenwriters for her short film “Who Left the Door Open?”
Algerian novelist and dramatist Amira-Géhanne Khalfallah is also a journalist and filmmaker who has published two plays — Les draps (Sheets) and Shams et les poissons du désert (Shams and the Desert Fish), as well as a debut novel, Le naufrage de la lune, in 2018. Her short film Essebat (The Shoe) screened at several international festivals, and the IWP says a feature film is in development.
An excerpt from the novel Wrecking the Moon, translated by Lillian Flemons
According to organizers, the goal of the IWP is “to provide authors a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity and the time and space to write, read, translate, study, conduct research, travel, give readings, stage work, and become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the university and in Iowa City[.]”
The fall residency is set to run from September 1 to November 16; over these 11 weeks, writers will give readings and lectures both in Iowa and other cities in the US. You can follow them at iwp.uiowa.edu/residency/this-years-program.