"The first book that I read was for adults, 'East of the Mediterranean,' by the renowned author Abdul Rahman Munif. I read it when I was eight years old."
At a majliss in Saudi Arabia, for example, some Saudis complained that an unwillingness to embrace the art form in the past meant that a “Saudi art form” had effectively been monopolized by the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Novelist Omaima Al-Khamis' Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Agate was winner of the 2018 Naguib Mahfouz Medal and also longlisted for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction: The novel is forthcoming in translation from Hoopoe Fiction; this excerpt appears with their permission. By Omaima al-Khamis Translated by Nesrine Amin and Sawad Hussain … Continue reading Special Excerpt: ‘Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Agate’
"I was honoured to work on this for many reasons, but I have to say that Raja’s process of not publishing the Arabic first really felt like a mark of faith in what translators can do, and recognition of the different value they can bring to a text."
"For narrative is a feminine land, and it is a forest . . . hidden behind the likely and the possible."
Unlike most travel literature, al-Khamis's "Voyage of the Cranes over the Agate Cities": "focuses on the role of women in this age: as scholar, scientist, and imam of a mosque."
"That was on November 29, 1979. Thanks to the clouds of gas that hovered in the air over the Holy City, the National Guard had successfully regained control of the rooftops and halls of the Grand Mosque, despite the heavy losses they had sustained earlier in the battle."
"Arabic is my center. I am very sensitive to the words, and up until now I cannot find the right words to capture this story, this wound. I feel I need to rewrite this book in some new Arabic, after taking a distance."
"In a course with limited time to discuss reader perspectives and biases, I prefer to focus on the act of translation."
The central theme of “K.” is much stronger than most literature coming from the Gulf.
"What I like best is the poem about the spiny-tailed lizard, called a dabb. He tells it as an animal parable, because this is an animal that’s admired for its toughness. It’s very hard to kill it. Even if you put it in a cooking pot, it keeps on swimming in the boiling water."
"[I]t’s also the only source we have for what people thought in that part of the world before the Wahhabi reform movement. We have no other sources."