Demand for Dorit Rabinyan's Borderlife has apparently surged since the novel -- which details a Muslim-Jewish love story -- was excluded from Israel's high-school curriculum as depicting "miscegenation" and "threatening Jewish identity."
If the money that was given away for the Katara Novel Award was "available to grant-making institutions in Egypt, the sum would be enough for 100 financially viable awards."
The imam who narrates Rasha al-Ameer’s “Judgment Day” is pulled in at least six different directions. The novel’s central character is claimed by a corrupt state, by Islamists, by the Quran, by poetry, by fame and by love. In a way, the eloquent TV-star imam is a Mutanabbi of our times.
From my review in Al Masry Al Youm / Egypt Independent: “Reflections on Islamic Art,” edited by Ahdaf Soueif, appears at a time when Islamic art is surging back into fashion. Soueif’s collection, published in November 2011, pairs art from Doha’s monumental Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) with creative writing from twenty-seven internationally acclaimed authors. … Continue reading ‘Reflections on Islamic Art’: Reinvigorating the Discourse on Islam, and Art
Editor's note: Egyptian writer Ahmed Bahgat passed away Sunday evening at age 79. Contributor Mona Elnamoury reflects on his work: By Mona Elnamoury Best known for his short story collection Kesas Alhayawan Fi AlQuran (Animal Stories in the Quran), Ahmed Bahjat has written many other Islamic fictional works in which religious facts were imaginarily delineated and mystically … Continue reading In Memory of Sufi Writer Ahmed Bahjat
The flight of Jews from many Arab nations in the middle of the last century was no small event. However, Jewish characters---and I mean particularly from this 1950s exodus---are rare in Arabic fiction.
So, the Scylla and Charybdis in literature are the same as in politics, where Scylla is cleaving to Anglo-American stereotypes of Arabs and Charybdis is avoiding the topic of religion, allowing oneself to be limned in by fear and self-censorship.
It would be impossible to write anything—it would be suicidal. Fundamentalism is against freedom in general, and freedom for a writer is not just to be free to sit down and write, but to think freely, to express oneself freely. So I think that a fundamentalist society can produce nothing but silence or a literature of opposition written in exile.
News in Cairo today is focused on yesterday's Islamist and Islam-focused rallies in Tahrir. Islamists have been depicted in both English-language and Arabic-language literatures. There are many portraits of (mostly terrorists) who've been animated by some vision of Islam. Far fewer literary works treat Islamist characters with sensitivity, depth, or creativity. Four that do: 1) … Continue reading Views of Islamism in Egypt: 4 Books
This week, Alaa Hamed, who is now a representative of the Egyptian Secular Party, said Salafi leaders destroyed the fence around his house with bulldozers, in part because of his books.
Shamei Asaad is neither a Coptic intellectual nor an activist. He is an engineer who took it upon himself to break the spiral of silence of his fellow Copts by detailing their concerns, from a layman's perspective, in a book entitled “The Christian Ghetto.” For a long time he was against the idea of migrating to the West to escape sectarian discrimination. But after the Alexandria church bombing, the 40-year-old man had to change his position.
But it was the author Khaled al-Khamissi---who wrote the best-selling Taxi and another novel titled Noah's Ark---who was the canary in the coal mine. According to Al Masry Al Youm, he read from a list of persecutions and injustices enacted against Copts throughout Egyptian history, saying: "We must acknowledge that there’s a real problem. Intolerance is only rising."