The IPAF (“Arabic Booker”)-sponsored retreat to Baniyas Island is over, and a few of the authors—including Egypt’s Mansoura el-Ezdin, longlisted for this year’s Arabic Booker—spoke with The National about their experiences. In effect, it sounds like a clone of writing retreats anywhere in the Americas or Europe. This makes meContinue Reading

Bikya Masr reports that Magdy el-Shafee and his publisher have been fined 5,000LE for the publication and distribution of Egypt’s first graphic novel, Metro. Apparently it offended public morals. You can nonetheless still read a portion of it at Words Without Borders. A few images are also still on Magdy’sContinue Reading

We were in a stationary store a few month’s back—these sometimes double as book shops in Cairo—and my six-year-old son asked for a new book. Fine, we said. There were a number of cheap Arabic and Arabic-translated-to-English titles that he rifled through. He chose The Three Martyrs, in English. ItContinue Reading

Youssef Ziedan recently found himself in the position of defending the inrush of Gulf money into the arts. Organizations in the Gulf, particularly the UAE, have not just been pouring money into literature—such as the “Arabic Booker” that Ziedan won in 2009—but also art museums and film festivals. Perhaps theyContinue Reading

That’s the headline from the UAE-based Khaleej Times, and it’s certainly the headline for me, too. I know almost nothing about Saudi literature, except that there have been a number of “behind the veil, under the covers” novels of late from anonymous Saudi women. Of course, these are not those.Continue Reading

“The Street Vendor and the Movies,” the next story in the anthology that really hit me, is by Samuel Shimon. It’s excerpted from his An Iraqi in Paris—which I meant to read, but, again, “life and forgetfulness put a damper on that impulsive urge,” in the words of Samir Naqqash.Continue Reading

The second gem of Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology is Samir Naqqash’s “Tantal.” There is only one story by him in the collection, although it’s a lovely one, about illusionment and disillusionment of a young Jewish Iraqi (later Israeli) who is raised on stories of the mythical “Tantal.” Despite hisContinue Reading

I have read only the two opening stories of Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology, finally available in Egypt from AUC Press. If all the rest of the pages were blank, I would still be delighted with this book. The first two stories—“Yusuf’s Tales” (available on Banipal) and “The Turtle Grandmother”—areContinue Reading