Lit & Found: Hosam Aboul-Ela, Mona Kareem, and ‘Exportability & Context: Reading Arabic Literature in the West’

For those who missed the event last month, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies has put the discussion between Mona Kareem and Hosam Aboul-Ela on Sonallah Ibrahim’s work, as seen through the lens of “exportability,” on YouTube:

The “exportability” in question references French critic and translator Richard Jacquemond on translating Sonallah Ibrahim’s Zaat, from which some fifty pages were excised in a form of “censorship of the marketplace,” to make Arabic literature exportable into French. While English translations have not made these concessions, Hosam also notes that “Hosam “the French Sonallah” has had considerable success in being folded in to the French literary ecosystem, far more than in English.

The two discuss the translations of Sonallah’s work into French and English, and “exportability,” and, more than anything else, Warda.

“It doesn’t feel like an Arabic novel any more to me, now that it’s translated,” Hosam Aboul-ela said. “it feels like a really unique novel of Marxist international revolution.”

You can watch the whole talk on YouTube.