Three must-read books, translated mostly or entirely from the Arabic, have appeared free online from publishers in recent weeks:
The Museum of Modern Art has made Modern Art in The Arab World: Primary Documents (2018), ed. Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout available free online as a PDF. The collection includes a range of essays on art from the 1880s to the 1980s; the book’s senior translation editor was Kareem James Abu-Zeid.
From the introduction:
This book is devoted to documenting the tremendous discursive energies of modern artists and critics who lived and worked in the Arabic-speaking regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Its texts—some 125 in all—originate from more than twelve countries and their diasporas, and at least four source languages, altogether spanning a full century of writing about art from the experience of modernity’s rapidly shifting commitments and contradictions. In assembling these documents, we have proceeded from an awareness that conversations and debates, as much as the fixed properties of finished art objects, gave meaning to the new art practices and theories of the twentieth century.
Download the book from the MOMA website.
We discussed this book back on Episode 11 of Bulaq.
Archipelago Books has also created a free ebook library. Among the titles is Elias Khoury’s seminal Gate of the Sun, tr. Humphrey Davies. You can also read a letter Khoury wrote to the activists who erected a new Bab al-Shams, named after Gate of the Sun, and also an interview with Khoury about the relationship between an author and his characters.