"Something that I was aware of growing up in Syria, but more now that I’m in Lebanon, is that classical Arabic literature is associated with many things, but it’s not associated with being a space for creative and experimental thinking. So I think the main idea for both of us with this is experimental."
"Al-Yūsī’s orientation, and Morocco’s orientation at the time, was toward the south. It’s something that we don’t think about today."
"It’s not quite the same as a purely autobiographical text, but it’s almost more interesting for that. They’re more like mini-essays. I do think that the work, for that reason, can be read by people who aren’t interested in seventeenth-century Morocco."
"He doesn’t privilege the past or try to harmonize rules or role models; instead, by a leap of imagination, literary imagination, he works contemporary reality and subjectivity (very important!) into the fabric of lived faith."
"I think Tanūkhī’s stories outclass the Nightsin every way, and unlike Shahrazad, he doesn’t go on and on. His plots are brisk and varied, even though in Deliverance Follows Adversity all the stories are about someone, usually someone just like you or me, getting into some sort of tight spot in one of their less bright moments, and coming out gratefully on the other side[.]"
"It was very, very liberating to have gone through that experience—to be forced to be honest with myself."
"In other words, it’s important to welcome and embrace the uncertainties rather than to dismiss them[.]"
"I had to steep myself into the language of ghazal, not only the vocabulary but also the allusions and associations that are part of it for those who are in the know about the tradition – a bit like one must know the mystical concepts when you translate Sufi poetry. Without that background, one can go awfully wrong."
"[D]ull would s/he be of soul who could resist a country where one of the chief officers of state bore the title of the Sultan’s Buttocks (his military formation brought up the rear when the army was on the march) and where the court jester was also 'the Keeper of the Sultan’s Anger,' i.e., was the executioner."
"No manuscript copy of the work exists. Its earliest recension is a lithographic edition, in the hand of Nicolas Perron, the author's institutional superior and student, published in Paris in 1850."
"What I like best is the poem about the spiny-tailed lizard, called a dabb. He tells it as an animal parable, because this is an animal that’s admired for its toughness. It’s very hard to kill it. Even if you put it in a cooking pot, it keeps on swimming in the boiling water."
"[I]t’s also the only source we have for what people thought in that part of the world before the Wahhabi reform movement. We have no other sources."