ArabLit’s Top 10 Stories and Essays of 2019

The ten most-read stories and essays on ArabLit in 2019 — excluding announcements and promotion of ArabLit Quarterly magazine — were:

10. The Popular Art and Poetry of Sudanese Protesters

Penned by Sudanese ArabLit and ArabLit Quarterly contributor Lemya Shammat, this piece, from January 2019, looks at some of the popular art and poetry of the Sudanese protests, including a poem that begins:

Tens of Khashoggis are publicly slaughtered in my country—

So why does the world turn a blind eye?

9. From ‘Children of the Alley: The Story of the Forbidden Novel’

Also from January 2019, this chapter of Mohamed Shoair’s brilliant popular history, translated by Samah Selim, centers around October 14, 1994, the day of the assassination attempt on Naguib Mahfouz.

8. Marilyn Booth on Turning Sayyidat al-Qamr into Celestial Bodies

After Jokha al-Harthi’s Celestial Bodies was longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International — a prize it eventually won — ArabLit editor M Lynx Qualey talked to translator Marilyn Booth about re-crafting the book in English.

7. The Frame, The Sausage, The Oil: Humor and Politics in Algeria’s Protests

ArabLit’s Algeria editor Nadia Ghanem wrote about the literature of protest signs in Algeria in March 2019.

6. Where Do I Start with Arabic Literature?

ArabLit editor M Lynx Qualey hazards an answer.

5. Iraqi Novelist Alaa Mashzoub Assassinated

Outspoken Iraqi novelist Alaa Mashzoub was fired on by gunmen in front of his Karbala home in February of this year. He was struck by 13 bullets and died at the scene. Mashzoub was 50.

4. A Look at 100 Books: Algerian Literature in Translation

Another list by ArabLit’s Algeria editor Nadia Ghanem, this looks at the relationship between contemporary Algerian literature and English.

3. 10 Recipes from Medieval Arabic Texts

A rather straightforward list.

2. 12 Must-read Memoirs in Arabic

In May 2019, educator Laila Familiar published a call for recommended memoir written in Arabic. We culled some of the most popular responses.

1. Penguin Classics vs. The World

As I wrote back in June: “Many literatures are underrepresented — India has only eight authors; Turkey has one; China gets short shrift with 12 — but there is nothing quite as strange as the seats at the back of the classics created for ‘Africa’ and ‘The Arab World.'”