It is interesting that many highbrow-ish literary commentators have declared the era of Arabic poetry over, in favor of the era of the Arabic novel, while popular poetry remains seemingly just as...popular.
Yesterday, Jadaliyya published a prose work by Yazbek that reflects events in Syria through the prism of a woman writer. The work, titled "Waiting for Death: I Will Not Carry Flowers to my Grave," is not assigned a genre, but feels in parts like a prose poem, elsewhere an essay or a memoir fragment.
Publishing Perspectives had a piece yesterday about the "Arabic Booker's" first nadwa (held last November), and the fiction anthology it has spawned: Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa 1.
The book is called Kitab Al-Tugra or Book of the Sultan’s Seal, about which Rakha has said: The book is an imaginative evocation of post-2001 Cairo and a secular meditation on the decline of Muslim civilisation; it draws on Ottoman history and the work of the great Cairene historians Ibn Iyas and Al Jabarti. The … Continue reading Images of Cairo in Youssef Rakha’s Upcoming Novel
When re-reading the Beirut39 collection, with a specific eye to its poetry, I began to develop a feeling---at some point---that something was missing.
Youssef Rakha, over at Arabophile, has posted four poems by Ahmad Yamani---although it's not clear where they're from or who did the translating. Nonetheless, read them. I liked the jolt of some of the just slightly off kilter, simple lines, such as: "I opened the window and the evening was still there." You can read … Continue reading Four Poems by Beirut 39er Ahmad Yamani
The international writers' organization PEN recently made available its 2010 Writers in Translation anthology, which one can pick up online (as a PDF) or at select libraries and independent bookstores: for free!
Yes, and this time I really mean "London," and not towns farther afield. Dash Arts recently launched something called the Dash Arabic Series, which is says includes "major commissions by artists from across the Arabic-speaking world and a wider programme of free events at the Dash Café." Upcoming events include a tribute to Um Kulthoum and a staging of … Continue reading If You’re in London: The ‘Dash Arabic’ Series
The Guardian review of Beirut39: New Writing from the Arab World , penned by author Robin Yassin-Kassab, begins with the well-worn notion that the news media shrinks our minds, stuffing us with stereotypes about Arabs. Literature, on the other hand, expands our minds. Therefore, we must read literature about the Arab world. I find myself … Continue reading Guardian Reviews Beirut39 Collection, Says Hassan Blasim Perhaps ‘Best Writer of Arabic Fiction Alive’
I'm a bit late in finding it, but Claire Falcon on FREE THE BLOG apparently wrote about Adania Shibli and Ala Hlehel's Beirut39 reading in London last month. There were the sorts of questions and answers to be expected (Don't you want dialogue with Israeli authors? When they recognize my rights), and then a question … Continue reading Tolstoy and Shakespeare Are Palestinians
According to the Emerging Writers Network (as well as a few lit mags and media outlets), May is not just the month of workers and flowers, but is also Short Story Month. To celebrate, you'll surely need to crack open a collection from the Arabic language's short-story genius, Yusuf Idris. Although I think many of … Continue reading Celebrate Short Story Month With Yusuf Idris, Ghassan Kanafani, Others
The most interesting things I've overheard from the Beirut39 festival (and it's hard to overhear what's going on in Beirut from Cairo---noisy here) have been about how young writers choose to reconcile the divide between classical (fos'ha) and colloquial (3meya) Arabic. A generation ago, many writers switched to writing dialogue in 3meya, leaving the rest … Continue reading Colloquial vs. Classical: How Do You Write?