New: Samira Azzam Collection Forthcoming from ALQ Books

Thanks to our Patreon subscribers, ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly will be able to support the translation of a collection of short stories by the brilliant Palestinian author Samira Azzam (1927-1967), from Arabic into English:

The collection — being translated by Ranya Abdelrahman — will draw from several of Azzam’s published collections.

Patreon subscribers will receive the ebook as thanks for their support. If we reach 250 subscribers, we will also produce a mirroring Arabic-language collection in a newly edited ebook edition.

The English book is scheduled for Fall 2021.

Samira Azzam was born in Acre, Palestine in 1927. After completing her basic education, she found work as a schoolteacher at 16, and was later appointed headmistress of a girls’ school. She was still in her teens where her stories began to appear in the journal Falastin under the pen name Fatat al-Sahel, or Girl of the Coast.

When Azzam and her family were forced to flee Palestine in 1948, they went first to Lebanon; in the years that followed, Azzam would work as a journalist around the region. As scholar Joseph Farag writes in “Samira Azzam’s ‘Man and His Alarm Clock,’” it was in Beirut that Azzam would “emerge as one of the first and pre-eminent Palestinian literary voices in the wake of the Nakba of 1948.”

Azzam was also an acclaimed translator, bringing English-language classics into Arabic. In her brief life, she translated works by Pearl Buck, Sinclair Lewis, Somerset Maugham, Bernard Shaw, John Steinbeck, Edith Wharton, and others.

According to Kathyanne Pisell in “Samira Azzam: Author’s Works and Vision,” in the 1960s, Azzam was also drafting a novel titled Sinai Without Borders.

Azzam died of a heart attack in August 1967, at just 40 years old.

Scholar Joseph Farag will write the foreword to this new collection, while the acclaimed Palestinian novelist Adania Shibli will provide an introduction.

Shibli has a long connection to Azzam’s work. Back in 2015, when ArabLit asked Shibli to recommend an Arab woman writer, Shibli had said that, “a writer who influenced my life is Samira Azzam, especially her 1963 The Clock and the Man.’” Shibli has said elsewhere that: “Actually [The Clock and the Man] contributed towards shaping my consciousness regarding the question of Palestine as no other text I have read in my life had done.”

Translator Ranya Abdelrahman (@enjoybooksdxb) is the former Head of Education & Publishing at the Emirates Literature Foundation. After more than 16 years in the technology industry, she changed careers to pursue her passion for books, translation and promoting reading. She has published translations in ArabLit Quarterly.

The idea behind ALQ Books is to channel support from Patreon to talented emerging translators and also to authors whose books would not be considered commercially viable for one reason or another. We aim to produce their works in crisply edited, beautiful, and affordable editions.