There’s only two things: literature that is real and literature that is not.
Assembly Journal, for their "five books" series, asked me to come up with a list of five Arabic books. The field was too dizzyingly wide. Even when I narrowed my topic to "memoirs and not-quite-memoirs," it was a difficult winnowing process: What about Galal Amin's Nectar of the Years? Well, it hasn't been translated into English, so that's that, I suppose. Sayyid Qutb or Huda Shaarawi's memoirs, for their historical and political importance? Taha Hussein's classic The Days? (But hasn't everyone already read The Days?)
The Jordanian news-and-culture website 7iber.Com is launching its new book club, "Inkitab - انكتاب," with a reading of The Committee (1981, 2001 English) by celebrated Egyptian author Sonallah Ibrahim.
In his essay yesterday about "State Culture, State Anarchy," Elliott Colla very briefly touched on author Sonallah Ibrahim's 2003 put-down of the Egyptian state cultural apparatus.
The Swedish Academy has chosen the winner of the 2010 Nobel literature prize, according to the Associated Press. However, they won't announce their decision until October 7. Peter Englund, secretary of the academy, declined to give the AP reporter any hints about the academy's choice. He did acknowledge a trend of awarding European writers, and … Continue reading Who Wins the Arab Nobel, 2010?
Well, all right, these aren't exactly Sonallah Ibrahim's Eid memories, as his novel Stealth (2010, Aflame) is fiction. However, the novel was based in part on Ibrahim's childhood, in part on research he did about the post-WWII era in Egypt, and of course part is pure imagination.
Ursula Lindsay has a lovely interview with Sonallah Ibrahim in The National, on the occasion of his novel التلصص (Stealth) appearing in English. As someone who was only allowed 570 words to write about this amazing book, I'm quite jealous. Lindsay notes, on her post about the interview/review on The Arabist, that Ibrahim had been … Continue reading Sonallah Ibrahim Takes the Proust Questionnaire
Somehow, I thought I could quickly track down each of these 100 titles, translate them (roughly), note whether or not an English translation or excerpt exists, and be done with it. Apparently, my eyes were bigger than my fingers. So here you have it! The first 10 of the best hundred Arab novels selected by … Continue reading The Best 100 Arabic Books (According to the Arab Writers Union): 1-10