“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

Eight young Arab authors—six of whom are on the prestigious Beirut 39 list—are currently squirreled away at Sir Baniyas Island, writing a short story or novel chapter and being tutored by Iraqi author Inaam Kachachi and Lebanese author Jabbour Douaihy. The nine-day workshop is hosted by the IPAF, or “ArabicContinue Reading

In 2008, the Emirates Foundation funded the first “Arabic Booker” literary prize. The Dubai International Poetry Festival 2009 has announced its intentions to revive an ancient Arab literary contest. The Sharjah Women’s Club even got in on the literary bonanza with an Arab Woman’s Literary Creativity Award. A peaceful jihad?Continue Reading

The new issue of A Public Space is full of young Egyptian writers in a “focus” curated by Brian Edwards. With a story from Mansoura el-Ezdin and two entries from Ahmed Alaidy, it’s a must-have for readers interested in fresh Egyptian fiction. So, how to get hold of it inContinue Reading

Publications will trip over themselves to tell you what to lug to the beach for “summer reading.” But who can concentrate with all that sun? The best time for reading is when the temperatures are down, at least a bit, and you can curl up on a warm couch. InContinue Reading

Generally, I gravitate toward fiction—probably as one of my obstinacies, since the rest of the world is racing like a bullet toward memoir. But as I read and review the remarkable memoir Life is More Beautiful than Paradise, by Khaled al-Berry, it reminds me of another, Muhammad Khudayyir’s Basrayatha. IContinue Reading