Publishing house World Editions has acquired what seems to be its first-ever Arabic title: Syrian author Samar Yazbek’s Blue Pen (originally: المشّاءة), which is set to be translated by Banipal Prize-winning Leri Price:
Yazbek’s novel follows Rima, a girl from Damascus who cannot stop walking. She has no control over her legs that are automatically set in motion the moment she is free to walk, a characteristic that has shaped her life. Rima grows up tied to her mother, confined in the school library, tied to her bed at home. The war comes closer, but Rima’s life — within limits — is happy. Then her mother is shot by a soldier at a checkpoint and dies. When she awakes, she doesn’t know where she’s been taken.
From a review in Livres Hebdo, translated by Yasmina Jraissati:
At first, we are disconcerted by Rima’s unstructured flow of words, addressed directly to the readers. We don’t know if she is simple-minded, traumatized or locked in a narrow mental cage. But it doesn’t matter, since Samar Yazbek embarks us on a destiny “always pushed forward by an irresistible force.” The power of life, literature, art and a look that seeks to broaden the horizon. “To make words dance on the blank page” is the power of this poignant novel.
The novel was published by Dar al-Adab in 2016.
By Yazbek, in English translation:
On the Norwegian edition:
On the Swedish edition: