Lit & Found: An Excerpt from Areej Gamal’s Sawiris-winning ‘Hi Maryam, It’s Arwa’

Over at Words Without Borders, they’ve published an excerpt of Areej Gamal’s Sawiris-winning novel Hi Maryam, It’s Arwa in Addie Leak’s strong, fluid translation.

Back in 2019, Areej spoke with ArabLit about this novel, as well as the short story of hers that appeared in the anthology The Book of Cairo. She said, of the germ of the novel, “And so I began to develop the image of the oboe-playing heroine, and this was the first image that entered my mind when I began to dream the recent novel, published by Dar al-Saqi, Hi Maryam, It’s Arwa.”

The excerpt opens:

Baba’s name was Mohammed Ali, and Mama’s was Sadiqa. I got used to our peculiar life in Riyadh. It wasn’t like anyone else’s; we weren’t like anyone else. Our apartment had just two rooms, without even a formal sitting room; the outer door opened onto the room that was my playroom and Mama’s cooking space, our dining room and bathroom, and the second door in the inner wall led to our bedroom and TV and the legless plastic wardrobes with their cloth covers that zipped closed. This was what people found if they got lost and came knocking on our door: me and Mama, in the very heart of our daily life.

Read the full excerpt at Words Without Borders.

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