‘Awlad al-Nas’: Transforming our View of Mamluk Egypt

Awlad al-Nas (literally Children of the People) offers insight into Egyptians‚Äô lives during the Mamluk period (1250‚Äď1517), which played a key role in Egypt‚Äôs history.

How Jurji Zaidan (Finally) Came to English

This week in Qantara,¬†I have a piece about the historical novels of Jurji Zaidan.¬†Here's a bit from the middle: "George [Zaidan] came to me about five years ago," Arabic literature professor and pioneering translator Roger Allen said, "because he realized that his grandfather had really been shoved aside in this process of the trying to … Continue reading How Jurji Zaidan (Finally) Came to English

Reading Novels, Reading History: The Loneliness of the Sadat Era

At the nudging of @TheObserveress, I have been compiling a list of beautifully formed, fun, and/or interesting historical novels that comment on various significant times, from the pharaonic era to not-quite-now: One that I've enjoyed recently is Ibrahim Abdelmeguid's The House of Jasmine (1986, Eng 2012), which is set during Anwar Sadat-era Egypt, 1970-1981. Its … Continue reading Reading Novels, Reading History: The Loneliness of the Sadat Era

Looking at the Longlist: A Book of ‘Epic Dimension’ from an ‘Excellent Storyteller’

Ibrahim Nasrallah has become known for his historical novels about Palestine, which are now a series of seven, including the one longlisted for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Lanterns of the King of Galilee (2011):¬† But Nasrallah, born in the¬†Wihdat Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan,¬†first dreamed of becoming ¬†musician. Unfortunately, there was no … Continue reading Looking at the Longlist: A Book of ‘Epic Dimension’ from an ‘Excellent Storyteller’

Looking at the Longlist: 9 Questions with Palestinian Novelist Anwar Hamed

Anwar Hamed was born in the West Bank in 1957, which is where he began writing and publishing his stories, as a 15-year-old schoolboy.¬†¬†In 1980, he moved to Hungary, and there he found a different audience for his work. For a time, he shifted to writing in Hungarian, translating his own novels into Arabic: His … Continue reading Looking at the Longlist: 9 Questions with Palestinian Novelist Anwar Hamed

Quiz: Re-reading History Through Jurji Zaidan’s Eyes

During Egypt's late 19th/early 20th century¬†nahda,¬†novelist and educator Jurji Zaidan made the historical novel his particular study. In order to move forward with a particularly Arab identity, Zaidan reasoned, it was necessary to re-investigate, and re-invigorate, certain aspects of the past.¬† Zaidan's fast-paced novels have remained popular among readers, but, for many years, Arabic historical … Continue reading Quiz: Re-reading History Through Jurji Zaidan’s Eyes

Jurji Zaidan’s Historical Novels in Translation & an Award for Samah Selim

I have heard, from @zuberino, that the publicity-shy¬†University of Arkansas (X)* Center for Middle East Studies has announced that the exceptionally talented Samah Selim has won their Arabic Literature Translation award for 2011 for her translation of Jurji Zaidan's Tree of Pearls. It's noted here on the University of Arkansas website; but I can't find … Continue reading Jurji Zaidan’s Historical Novels in Translation & an Award for Samah Selim