Lit & Found: Najwa Binshatwan’s ‘Portrait of a Libyan Scream’

Later this month, UEA Publishing Project will release Mo(a)t: Stories from Arabic, an anthology of short fiction by Arabophone writers from the African diaspora, edited by Garen Torikian and translated by Sawad Hussain and Nariman Youssef.

Portrait of a Libyan Scream,” translated by Sawad Hussain, appears in Bin Shatwan’s wild, satiric, inventive 2019 short-story collection Soudfa Jariaa (An Ongoing Coincidence), which has yet to find a publisher.

It opens:

The sole lamppost in the village decided to keel over onto Ikhmayyis’s head while on his way home. Usually, no one could make their way home, or their way out of the village, without passing by the post. Not only was it munificent in lighting their path, day and night, but it also became, of its own accord, a traffic light, whenever it felt that a car was about to knock into it. Those who were lost found their way, thanks to said lamppost, and it also defended the village from locust storms, whilst providing much-needed shade from the unrelenting sun.

Read the whole story on Words Without Borders. Binshatwan’s short-story collection Catalogue of a Private Life, tr. Sawad Hussain, is forthcoming at the end of this month.

Najwa Binshatwan