"[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."
Following a two-and-a-half-month strike, the demands of the journalists at the Egyptian literary newspaper Akhbar al-Adab have been met: the old editor-in-chief is gone and a new one, Abla El-Roweyni, is in place.
Fakhri Saleh---former IPAF and Mahfouz Medal judge and current al-Hayat columnist---has a short piece in this week's Qantara arguing that Arabic literature requires a different, de-Orientalized sort of literary criticism.
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
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/
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
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
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
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’
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…
A few of the big authors of the last decade (the Alaa el Aswany, the Elias Khoury) as well as the obligatory "taboo breakers" (Girls of Riyadh) are reviewed by Claudia Roth Peirpont in The New Yorker. To sum up, "There will be good books and not so good ones, just as with American fiction." … Continue reading The New Yorker Discovers Arabic Fiction
Youssef Bazzi has an enthusiastic essay in Banipal 36: "Europe, our guide to reading our Arabic literature." Yes, with a double "our." Let us grant, for a moment, that his basic argument is true: 1) Europeans adore Arabic literature (from a good place in their broad, cultured, European hearts); 2) Arabs do and should write … Continue reading Europe a Wonderland for Arab Lit?