Beirut39-winning novelist Samar Yazbek was detained and beaten. Syrian songwriter Ibrahim al-Qashoush, author of a popular anti-regime song, was murdered, his vocal cords apparently ripped from his throat. And now political cartoonist Ali Farzat, Damascus’s “Pen of Steel,” has had his head, arms, and hands severely beaten.
Syria’s writers are not particularly well known to international audiences—with a few exceptions, such as Adonis and Salwa al-Neimi—but many are celebrated in the Arabic-reading multiverse. The list that follows highlights only a few, with an emphasis on those available in English translation.
Yes, you must read Haidar Haidar, Ghada Samman (a new edition of her Beirut Nightmares was recently released), Hanna Mina, Fawwaz Haddad, Zakaria Tamer, Khaled Khalifa, and many other Syrian writers over 41. More on them tomorrow.
I heard today that Syrian poet and blogger Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari was arrested last night, or at least seized by young armed men assumed to be security services.
That’s what Publishing Perspectives asked yesterday: Can books change the reputation of a nation? Can their “soft power” shift international perceptions of a nation?
Yesterday, Jadaliyya published a prose work by Yazbek that reflects events in Syria through the prism of a woman writer. The work, titled “Waiting for Death: I Will Not Carry Flowers to my Grave,” is not assigned a genre, but feels in parts like a prose poem, elsewhere an essay or a memoir fragment.
The Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) was one of the most popular Arabic-language poets of the twentieth century, well-known for his focus on eroticism and love. As Bassam Frangieh notes in his introduction to Arabian Love Poems, a collection of Qabbani’s work he co-translated with Clementina Brown, “To say that Kabbani was the most popular and famous of contemporary Arab poets is not to claim that he was the most skilled.”
After all the kerfuffle about how many Arabic Booker nominees use the girls’ room instead of the boys’ (and how this is proof of literary discrimination), I appreciate Syrian author Abeer Esber, writing on Qantara: “In my view, this gender… Read More ›
The MLA apparently will present a major translation award to Dr. Michael Beard (University of North Dakota) and Adnan Haydar (University of Arkansas) for their transation of Adonis’s Mihyar of Damascas: His Songs, which was published last year by BOA…. Read More ›