5 Must-read Memoirs (and Not-quite-memoirs)

Assembly Journal, for their "five books" series, asked me to come up with a list of five Arabic books. The field was too dizzyingly wide. Even when I narrowed my topic to "memoirs and not-quite-memoirs," it was a difficult winnowing process: What about Galal Amin's Nectar of the Years? Well, it hasn't been translated into English, so that's that, I suppose. Sayyid Qutb or Huda Shaarawi's memoirs, for their historical and political importance? Taha Hussein's classic The Days? (But hasn't everyone already read The Days?)

One-minute Review: Mahmoud Darwish’s /Journal of an Ordinary Grief/

In Mahmoud Darwish’s Journal of an Ordinary Grief--published in 1973 as Yawmiyyat al-Huzn al-'Adi and now available in English translation--the narrator shapes his personal, Palestinian memories against the insistent push of Israeli and Western-dominated history. The book thus presents itself not as an official record, but as a collection of individual wounds.

When (Arab) Poets Write Prose

Baheyya begins her review of Mourid Bargouti's 2009 memoir I Was Born There, I Was Born Here by stating: "It’s a wonderful thing when poets write prose." This is certainly true of Bargouti. His first memoir, I Saw Ramallah, which was released in English in 2000 (translated by award-winning author Ahdaf Soueif), is not just … Continue reading When (Arab) Poets Write Prose

Galal Amin’s /Nectar of the Years/ a Memoir Worth Translating?

Rashda Ragab has a glowing review of economist Galal Amin's recently published Rahik al-Omr, or Nectar of the Years (2010, Dar el Shorouk), in this week's Al Ahram Weekly. This is Amin's second full-length autobiography, coming after Madha Allamatni Al-Hayah? What Has Life Taught Me? (2007, Dar el Shorouk), which poet and critic Youssef Rakha … Continue reading Galal Amin’s /Nectar of the Years/ a Memoir Worth Translating?

Update on Barghouti’s /I Was Born There, I Was Born Here/

Bibliophiles take note: Palestinian poet Mourid Bargouti's new memoir is set to come out in  in English next fall from American University in Cairo Press. The translation of Bargouti's second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here (ولدت هناك، ولدت هنا), is being done by Humphrey Davies. Davies also translated Elias Khoury's Gate … Continue reading Update on Barghouti’s /I Was Born There, I Was Born Here/