What 1930s Egyptian Travel Writing Says About the ‘Arab Mediterranean’

"The interwar years were a golden age for travel writing in Egypt and the Middle East in general; scores of new books arrived to tell Arabic readers about the increasingly connected world."

Translator Sampsa Peltonen on Why Hassan Blasim’s ‘God99’ Is Like Parkour

"The arselongness of the text made me think about how the traceurs keep plunging forwards all the time, almost like just past their tipping point, foolhardily hopping over things, dashing and ploughing into walls. Parkour is also often practised in urban places that smell of piss and fast-food and where you need to watch out you don't step on broken glass or used condoms."

The Iraqi ‘Irvine Kafka Poe’

The comparison is both oddly specific and also strangely unhelpful: Blasim is “Iraq’s Irvine Welsh.” Yes, yes, Irvine Welsh is a name I should instantly recognize. But to be honest, I had forgotten why. Irvine, my brain said. Irvine, California? Worse, my brain had linked the name "Irvine Welsh" to novels and screenplays by the American writer Peter Hedges.