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. It
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 they
Bikya Masr has an interesting piece about the business of buying books in Cairo, seeming to attribute the rise in book-buying solely to the publication of The Yacoubian Building in 2002. I’d have to argue that this revived passion for books can’t really sit on the shoulders of Mr. el
Ibrahim’s referring to Al-Talasus, out soon as Stealth from Aflame Books. And my God it’s good. A review of the original here. “I don’t expect anything in return for completing the book, in the sense that I’ve done it and that’s over. I was telling you I completely forgot it
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.
In a forthcoming interview, translator Humphrey Davies disagrees with assertions that Arab literature is under-translated. He says he wishes that someone would make a list, because “there’s a lot more out there than people think.” Indeed, while I was looking up information about the fuzzy-haired Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim, I
The last three stories in Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology all struck me, although not as deeply as Khudayyir, Naqqash, or Shimon. Ibtisam Abdullah’s second story, “The Other in the Mirror,” tells of a woman in passionate love with her husband, who is then sent to the front. Each time
“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.
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 his