How Booktubing Changed Nada El Shabrawy’s Life

"[T]he words you say on YouTube will definitely have an impact. So you really need to understand this, and you really need to value this responsibility. Otherwise, don’t start booktubing."

People in Egypt Are Talking About: Alaa Al-Aswany vs. Gaber Asfour

All right, perhaps more Egyptians are talking about our recent sandstorm or some football match or another. But those who like a good literary scuffle are talking about this. Literary critic Dr. Gaber Asfour has recently had some—well, criticism—of The Yacoubian Building and its author, Dr. Alaa Al-Aswany. The criticism has stirred up quite a … Continue reading People in Egypt Are Talking About: Alaa Al-Aswany vs. Gaber Asfour

Youssef Rakha Takes On Samia Mehrez’s /Egypt’s Culture Wars/

Samia Mehrez's 2008 work of literary criticism, Egypt's Culture Wars, has finally made it to print in Egypt (AUC Press, March 2010). This week, Youssef Rakha takes the opportunity to comment in Al Ahram Weekly. Rakha begins his critique with a charming exaggeration: Recently, in an otherwise casual conversation, a writer friend remarked that the … Continue reading Youssef Rakha Takes On Samia Mehrez’s /Egypt’s Culture Wars/

Local vs. ‘International’ Literature

What author Anant Kunda has to say about "international" literature in India has echoes in modern Arabic (international) literature. Hans Dembowski: Who is the audience of Indian authors that write international bestsellers? Anant Kumar: Well, on the Indian subcontinent, there is only a small stratum of society that has a sufficient command of English to … Continue reading Local vs. ‘International’ Literature

Field Guides to Elsewhere: How We Read Languages We Don’t Read

The Quarterly Conversation has posted a nice investigation of the assumptions behind Claudia Roth Pierpont's New Yorker piece on Arabic lit by former Interlink editor Hilary Plum. Does Arabic literature need to have a "purpose" for "us"? (Oh, this insidious us!) Must it really, as Roth Pierpont suggests, "translate foreign histories into stories that we … Continue reading Field Guides to Elsewhere: How We Read Languages We Don’t Read

New and Reviewed: Khalidi’s Qur’an Translation, Celeb (Magrhebi) Memoir, and Nazi-to-Arab Propaganda

The Angry Arab News Service lauds the new Qur'an translation done by Tarif Khalidi and now out from Penguin Classics. First, As'ad AbuKhalil says that the translation is accurate, which is no small feat. Second, he says that the poetic verses come through well. And this backs him up: (The Quake sura): "When the earth … Continue reading New and Reviewed: Khalidi’s Qur’an Translation, Celeb (Magrhebi) Memoir, and Nazi-to-Arab Propaganda

Arabic Literature’s ‘Epic Unwillingness’

I haven't read Passage 62, just the summary up at Eurozine, but who can resist a phrase like "epic unwillingness," as applied to the literature of a whole, long-lived, world-spanning language? But first, we hear: "Modern Arabic literature make(s) up less than one per cent of all literature translated into French, write the editors of … Continue reading Arabic Literature’s ‘Epic Unwillingness’

The Ghaddafi Prize for Literature Goes to…

Now here's a literary prize not everyone will want on their resume: The Ghaddafi Prize, awarded this year to writer and critic Dr. Jaber Asfour. Asfour also is director of the National Center for Translation in Egypt. The Ghaddafi Prize for Literature was established in 2007 and comes with a $200,000 check. I found this … Continue reading The Ghaddafi Prize for Literature Goes to…