As young Egyptian author Ahmed Nagi (Rogers) happened to email me, I thought I'd ask about his favorite books of the last decade. With the caveat that "maybe there are other titles I can't remember now," he said: On The Occasion of Life, 2005, Dar el-Merit بمناسبة الحياة" ياسر عبد الحافظ by Yasser Abdel-Hafez On … Continue reading Three of Ahmed Nagi’s Favorite (Arabic) Books of the Last Decade: Nope, None in English
Two of the novels excerpted in Banipal 37: Iraqi Authors have not yet been published in Arabic (or Finnish, English, Urdu, Quechua). Both are terrifying, and both show serious promise. The first is an excerpt from Nazum al-Obeidi's A Woman's Ghost in the Neighborhood, as translated by Ghenwa Hayek. The second is a chapter from … Continue reading Two Excerpts from Yet Unpublished Iraqi Novels
As one flips through the latest Banipal (37: Iraqi Authors), the first fiction to appear is an excerpt from Lutfiya al-Dulaimi's The Book of the Girls. The magazine's foreword notes that: "Lutfiya al-Dulaimi, with her new novel The Book of the Girls---which will surely be translated into many languages---rivets the reader's attention...." Although it receives … Continue reading Review of Banipal 37: Excerpt of Lutfiya al-Dulaimi’s /The Book of the Girls/
I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but Ibrahim al-Koni's masterwork The Animists (translated by Elliot Colla) was originally scheduled to be out from AUC Press in February of this year. Now, it's had its English-language debut delayed until June of 2012. That's, you know, quite a delay. Meanwhile, al-Koni's The Puppet, translated by … Continue reading Update on Forthcoming Ibrahim al-Koni (in English)
Please don't think that the list below is authoritative. It doesn't have Yahia Haqqi, for instance, because I haven't read him. It doesn't have Edwar Kharrat, because I've found the translations of him very unsatisfying. It's not even authoritative on its own terms: my favorite things. I'm forgetful. And poetry! I'm very remiss with poetry. … Continue reading A Few of My Favorite Things: Egyptian Authors, Taha Hussein-Present
The Tree of Misery. By Taha Hussein, trans. Mona El-Zayyat. The Palm Press: Cairo, 1997 (Arabic 1944). 137 pages. I had thought of the Egyptian writer Taha Hussein (1889-1973) as a memoirist and a critic, not an author of gripping fiction. Indeed, I suppose I thought that I might find Hussein's fiction learned and "interesting," … Continue reading One Minute Review: Taha Hussein’s /The Tree of Misery/
My friend Mai once told me, Reading is one thing. Seeing a thing on film is another. She was referring to Blindness, which I'm sure I couldn't take from a "push" medium. And if there were a film based on Madman of Freedom Square---all respect to the author, who I'm sure could use the cash---I … Continue reading Should You Listen to Hassan Blasim’s Stories Online?
Such is the thesis of Hamza Hendawi, writing today for the Associated Press. I'm not quite sure I agree with the lead---Hendawi quotes Hamdi Abu Golayyel, whose A Dog with No Tail (or The Laborer, in Arabic)---is actually full of big issues, if delivered via a intimate, workaday narrator. "We [contemporary writers] are closer to … Continue reading Egyptian Fiction ‘Bored’ of Big Issues?
The 2009 novel by Lebanese author Alawiyya Sobh Ismuhu al Gharam has been named by some (Youssef Rakha in particular) as the book that should've won the Arabic Booker. The novel, which has received excellent reviews from the Arabic press, did make the prize's longlist, but not the shortlist. From the excerpt translated into English … Continue reading Review of (an excerpt of) the One Not Shortlisted: Its Name is Love
by Hamdi Abu Golayyel, translated by Robin Moger The narrator of Hamdi Abu Golayyel's A Dog with No Tail (Arabic 2008; English 2009) moves through life lazily but anxiously. He's aimless, but still hoping for literary greatness. The novel itself hops from anecdote to anecdote, not progressing "logically," or causally, but connected instead through the … Continue reading One-Minute Review: A Dog with No Tail
I have been caught up in an Elias Khoury feeding frenzy of late, reading Yalo (Quercus edition), Gate of the Sun, and White Faces (or White Masks, as Maia Tabet has translated it) all at once, and overlapping, and over again. Yalo is probably his strongest work in English (although Gate of the Sun is … Continue reading Elias Khoury: The Danger
Transcript 33---a European Review of Books and Writing---marks the anniversary of the 2008-09 military invasion of Gaza with new writing from the strip. Are of the work was quite short. Somaya El Sousi had two pieces that could be flash essays or fiction or prose poetry. "The Art of Living in Gaza" tells its story … Continue reading Transcript 33: New Fiction from Gaza