On Taha Hussein Day: 5 in Translation

Although Hussein's works continue to be read and loved forty-odd years after his death, only a small corner of his broad oeuvre has been translated to English.

5 Must-read Memoirs (and Not-quite-memoirs)

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?)

Don’t Have a Father’s Day Gift? (Yes, Of Course, Literary Suggestions)

If your dad likes complex but ultimately heartwarming father-son relationships in (great) literature: Stealth, by Sonallah Ibrahim, has a touching father-son relationship at its core. It's also an excellent, very readable book. Although some accused Ibrahim of writing autobiography (it hews closely to his own experience growing up in Cairo in the post-WWII era), this … Continue reading Don’t Have a Father’s Day Gift? (Yes, Of Course, Literary Suggestions)

One-minute Review: Taha Hussein’s /The Call of the Curlew/

Ideally, you wouldn't read the A.B. As-Safi translation of Taha Hussein's masterwork, The Call of the Curlew, published by Palm Press in 1997. The edition (pictured) is riddled with typos and the English is sometimes stilted, other times confusing. Hussein (1889-1973), "the dean of Arabic letters," was surprisingly interested in women's lives. His The Tree … Continue reading One-minute Review: Taha Hussein’s /The Call of the Curlew/