And the shortlisters are: Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt) – Beyond Paradise Muhammad Al Mansi Qindeel (Egypt) – A Cloudy Day on the West Side Rabee Jabir (Lebanon) – America Abdo Khal (Saudi Arabia) – She Throws Sparks Raba’l Madhoun (Palestine) – The Lady From Tel Aviv Jamal Naji (Jordan) –Continue Reading

The current issue of the well-respected Edinburgh Review, 127, is focused on Iraq. There’s poetry by Saadi Youssef and others, well, unknown to me, as well as photographs, fiction, and interviews. On the website, they have an interview with author-translator Hussain al-Mozany, an Iraqi who currently writes in German. AContinue Reading

Most of the “best-of” lists I’ve seen in the U.S. and U.K. presses are awash with the regulars: Alice Munro, Lydia Davis, ta-di-di-dah. Of course, they’re lovely writers. But! Occasionally, you do want to see the odd foreigner. And now, the winner is… Yalo, by Elias Khoury, in a listContinue Reading

The award–a silver medal and cash prize–has been presented each year since 1996. The medal’s presented on December 11, Mahfouz’s birthday. Tonight, it’s to be delivered by Prof. Rasheed el-Enany. NOTE: The award went to Syrian writer Khalil Sweileh  for his novel Warrak Al-Hub, or Scribe of Love. You canContinue Reading

Words Without Borders is featuring international science fiction this December. Unfortunately, there are no offerings from the Arabic (I would love to read a narrative about 22nd century Cairo), but there is an interesting, readable excerpt from the 19th century Urdu fantasy epic, Tilism-e-Hoshruba. It’s by Musharraf Ali Farooqi, andContinue Reading

Ahmed Alaidy’s Being Abbas El Abd shares the sinews of Palahniuk’s Fight Club—yes—and the wounded center of other boy-lit I’ve read. It’s also, of course, Egyptian, and redeemed by a black Egyptian humor. Certainly worth reading. But! Because I’m an unredeemable nerd, and have recently become interested in the thornierContinue Reading

“Pragmatic politics has nothing to do with literature. If you ask me about a pragmatic solution, I think all this complication can be solved in two minutes. There are occupied territories, so just get out.” “Literature speaks in many ways. It speaks to the present, of course, and to theContinue Reading

This time it’s Cairo Modern, reviewed here (un-starred) by Publishers Weekly. Now I am about to agree with the Angry Arab News Service (Dr. As`ad AbuKhalil) and his assessment that we need less Mahfouz, more of…everybody else.Continue Reading