Coming in February: Eleventh-century Medical Satire and Fiction From Eritrea

Book publication dates shift, and thus we are supplementing the annual list of forthcoming literature in translation with monthly lists, which we hope are more accurate. If you know of other works forthcoming this month, please add them in the comments or email us at info@arablit.org.

The Doctors’ Dinner Party, by Ibn Buṭlān, tr. Philip F. Kennedy and Jeremy Farrell (Library of Arabic Literature)

From the publisher: “The Doctors’ Dinner Party is an eleventh-century satire in the form of a novella, set in a medical milieu. A young doctor from out of town is invited to dinner with a group of older medical men, whose conversation reveals their incompetence. Written by the accomplished physician Ibn Buṭlān, the work satirizes the hypocrisy of quack doctors while displaying Ibn Buṭlān’s own deep technical knowledge of medical practice, including surgery, blood-letting, and medicines. He also makes reference to the great thinkers and physicians of the ancient world, including Hippocrates, Galen, and Socrates. Combining literary parody with social satire, the book is richly textured and carefully organized: in addition to the use of the question-and-answer format associated with technical literature, it is replete with verse and subtexts that hint at the infatuation of the elderly practitioners with their young guest. The Doctors’ Dinner Party is an entertaining read in which the author skewers the pretensions of the physicians around the table.”

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Black Foam, by Haji Jabir, translated by Sawad Hussain and M Lynx Qualey (AmazonCrossing)

From the publisher: “Dawoud is on the run from his murky past, aiming to discover where he belongs. He tries to assimilate into different groups along his journey through North Africa and Israel, changing his clothes, his religious affiliations, and even his name to fit in, but the safety and peace he seeks remain elusive. It seems prejudice is everywhere, holding him back, when all he really wants is to create a simple life he can call his own. A chameleon, Dawoud—or David, Adal, or Dawit, depending on where and when you meet him—is not lost in this whirl of identities. In fact, he is defined by it. Dawoud’s journey is circuitous and specific, but the desire to belong is universal. Spellbinding to the final page, Black Foam is both intimate and grand in scale, much like the experiences of the millions of people migrating to find peace and safety in the twenty-first century.”

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