Libyan novelist Ahmed Fagih (1942-2019), best-known for his twelve-volume historical epic Maps of the Soul, died Tuesday at a hospital in Cairo.
“Often, readers tell me I should write about one subject or another, and I don’t like this sort of relationship, where readers approach the writer as though they’re a machine or a mythical creature.”
“I began thinking about the sanctity of Arabic and the way it is used to justify certain ideologies or concepts which many Libyans don’t agree with. Gaddafi made Arabic Libya’s standard language, and with it not only marginalized Libya’s indigenous people but also justified a newly established regressive way of living.”
In the last ten days, there have been two big talks about comics and cartoonists, one by Libyan poet-translator-media mogul-doctor-blogger Ghazi Gheblawi, in London, and the other by author-artist-scholar-blogger Jonathan Guyer at Harvard.
Yesterday, PEN International issued a statement expressing they are “deeply concerned” for the authors’ safety.
“Libyan poet Fatima Mahmoud wrote such powerful things in the 70’s, at the height of Gaddafi’s suppression of the people. Everything she wrote still rings true today.”
“But my work came to the scrutiny of the Libyan authorities who tried to lure me to write about the regime and its ideology which I refused to do.”
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The five-story shortlist will be announced in mid-May, with the winner announced in London on July 3.
“To help me explore Hisham Matar’s The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land In Between (2016), I ordered a sneeze-inducing, water-stained copy of Knud Holmboe’s Desert Encounter: An Adventurous Journey Through Italian Africa (my copy was printed in 1937), re-read parts of Alessandro Spina’s Confines of the Shadow epic, and even, among other things, pulled Dante off the shelf.”
Translator Valentina Viene profiles “Muslim Libyan Arab British graphic novelist” Asia Alfasi, who has moved from writing about her identity to, more broadly, life in Libya and Scotland.
The Prince Claus Fund has announced that it’s accepting project proposals for its Cultural Defiance Fund from the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Libya, and Yemen.