Bila Hudood: Arabic Literature Everywhere

BILA HUDOOD: Arabic Literature Everywhere was a three-day digital literary festival alternating hour-long panels and short translator pitches about new & exciting books.

All talks and short films streamed live on YouTube. If you missed one, you can watch it there now. Find out more about each of the panels and links below. The pitch films will be coming to our YouTube channel soon.


July 9


12:45 EST * 5:45 BST * 6:45 CEST

Welcome to the festival from organizer Sawad Hussain, who will explain what’s coming up.

Arabic Literature in Berlin

1-2 p.m. EST * 6-7 p.m. BST * 7-8 p.m. CEST

This panel shines a spotlight on Berlin as a centre of Arabic-language literary production. Prose writer Haytham El-Wardany, playwright Liwaa Yazji, and Arabic-German translator Sandra Hetzl will reflect on the recent upsurge of Arabic writing taking place in the city and discuss themes and styles that emerge in this body of work, and the inspiration they find for their own practice. We will discuss the infrastructure that supports this creativity, and ask whether Berlin is doing enough to support its non-German writers. We’ll also examine some of the challenges of being an Arab writer in Berlin. Panelists will read short extracts from recent work they’ve written in or about Berlin. Moderated by Katharine Halls.

This panel is in association with Khan Aljanub, Berlin’s leading Arabic bookshop. We’re pleased to announce that attendees will receive a special discount from Khan Aljanub.

#TranslateThis Short Films

2-2:30 p.m. EST * 7-7:30 p.m. BST * 8-8:30 p.m. CEST

The first in our short films by translators about books they’d like to see in translation. The first three films are now available on YouTube at


July 10

African Narratives in Arabic Publishing

8-9 EST / 1-2pm BST / 2-3 CEST

This panel will delve into the experiences of Ahmed Val Bin El Dine and Ishraga Mustafa, two African writers publishing in the Arabic literary sphere.  What challenges have they faced, if any? What lessons have they learnt? What is their view on translation? We will also discuss their journey as writers, focusing on their works published and what is to come.

The session will be moderated by Sawad Hussain.

The Taste of Letters

9:30 a.m. EST / 2:30-3:30 BST / 3:30-4:30 p.m. CEST

In 2019, a two-month food-writing workshop called “The Taste of Letters” (طعم الحروف) took place at the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo as part of Botoun (a series of workshops, film screenings, and an exhibition that engaged with the politics of food). “The Taste of Letters” became the title of a collection of texts that emerged from the workshop, and they appeared in English translation as part of the Summer 2021 issue of ArabLit Quarterly, guest-edited by Nour Kamel. In this panel, moderated by Nour Kamel, writers reflect on the various tastes that make up food writing in and through Arabic. Kamel is joined by writer, researcher, and filmmaker Salma Serry; the genre-spanning author of Food for Copts (2017) Charles Akl; and Mariam Boctor a member of Botoun’s curatorial team who helped facilitate “The Taste of Letters” workshop and translated some of its texts into English.

Supported in part by ArabLit Quarterly magazine, in honor of its summer issue, THE KITCHEN.

These Literary Truths: Memoir and Life-writing

11 a.m. EST / 4-5 p.m. BST / 5-6 p.m. CEST

With the innovative projects like the Kayfa Ta (“How To”) series and a number of poets turning to long-form prose, there has been a new wave of Arabic literary nonfiction that weaves together deeply intimate family histories with insights into photography, the nature of silence and sleep, patriarchy, and how familial histories twine together with broader political forces. This panel, “These Literary Truths,” will be moderated by writer and editor Rima Rantisi, co-founder of Rusted Radishes magazine in Beirut. She will be joined by writer Amr Ezzat (Room 304 or How I Hid from My Dear Father for 35 Years, How To Remember Your Dreams), poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer Dunya Mikhail (The Beekeeper of Sinjar), and one of the co-founders of the Kayfa Ta project, artist and curator Maha Maamoun.

#TranslateThis Short Films

12-12:30 p.m. EST * 5-5:30 p.m. BST * 6-6:30 p.m. CEST

The second in our short films by translators about books they’d like to see in translation.


July 11

Young Adult Lit: Fantastic Worlds & Where to Find Them

Noon EST / 5 p.m. BST / 6 p.m. CEST

Young Adult literature in Arabic is a small but extraordinarily vibrant space, which has seen steady growth in the last decade, with new literary prizes, new sub-genres, and a growing appetite for new books among young readers. Among these fantastic new worlds, readers will find time-travel fantasies, science fictional futures, magical realism, detective tales, and more.

This panel will be led by leading expert on Arabic YA Susanne Abou Ghaida, who will be joined by three YA writers: by Palestinian-Jordanian novelist Taghreed Najjar, Syrian novelist Maria Dadouch, and Egyptian novelist and translator Ahmed al-Mahdi.

#TranslateThis Short Films

1-1:30 p.m. EST * 6-6:30 p.m. BST * 7-7:30 p.m. CEST

The third (and last) in our short films by translators about books they’d like to see in translation.