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The Shortlist 2020 of the Saif Ghobash Banipal PrizeThe shortlisted works are:Trees for the Absentees by Ahlam Bsharat (Palestine)Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp & Sue Copeland
Publisher: Neem Tree Press

A Shimmering Red Fish Swims with Me by Youssef Fadel (Morocco)Translated by Alexander E. Elinson
Publisher: Hoopoe Fiction (an imprint of AUC Press)

Velvet by Huzama Habayeb (Palestine)Translated by Kay Heikkinen
Publisher: Hoopoe Fiction (an imprint of AUC Press)

The Old Woman and the River by Ismail Fahd Ismail (Kuwait)Translated by Sophia Vasalou
Publisher: Interlink Books
Alaa al-Deeb:The Defeated Leftist Intellectual article by Mansoura Ez-EldinThis view is by no means exclusive to Aslan: in a cultural community characterised by its flattery and narrow interests, Alaa al-Deeb is widely regarded as a saint. Litterateurs of various generations view his writings on them as both an endorsement and a recognition of their talent. Indeed, what earned the late novelist his well-deserved stature was his objectivity and keenness to encourage the new voices in which he saw potential.
One Sky A short story by Palestinian writer Liana BadrI named him Robin, based on the assurances of our bird-loving neighbour. When I expressed my doubt about the name due to the incomplete red ruff on his neck feathers, he told me: “This is a young bird. The full red has not yet appeared on his feathers.”
Adonis: Banipal is a unique cultural projectBanipal has been realizing a unique and twofold project within the sphere of cultural productions of the Arab world. For, on the one hand, it provides a space in which Arabic literary texts are set in motion, in a direct dialogue with literary texts in the English language, in terms of both content and form. And, on the other hand, it offers an historic opportunity that allows for the language of the self to be reflected in the language of the Other, through a continuous, diverse and profuse flux.

Elias, chapter from the novel, by the Egyptian writer Ahmad Abdulatif
My name is Elias. A Hebrew name, they say. From Eliyahu. The ‘s’ was added in the Greek. They say it’s a Muslim and a Christian name both. Of a prophet mentioned in the Torah and in the Quran. A coincidence. It’s nothing more than a coincidence. I’m not a prophet, nor a saint, nor a righteous man. Nor sinner either, as it happens. I’m just Elias. Elias plain and simple. In some respects my life, like that of others, might intersect with the prophet’s story. In some respects, like others, it might not. The prophet’s life might, in some respects, intersect with others’ stories, and my story play no part in it at all. Everything’s on the table.
Ageing in the Modern Arabic Novel by Samira Aghacy

Jonathan Wright reviews Iraqi Jewish Novelists by Khalida Hatim Alwan
They range from Samir Naqqash, a tragic genius who clung to his Iraqiness and to the Arabic language throughout his troubled and peripatetic life, to Sami Michael, who switched to Hebrew in the 1970s and found a place for himself in Israeli society, albeit as a leftist, a defender of civil rights and a critic of discrimination against Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews inside Israel. One of the writers, Naim Kattan, has spent very little time in Israel, moving in Montreal in 1954 and flourishing as a prolific writer in French on a variety of themes, not exclusively on his Iraqi heritage or memories. Yet another, Anwar Shaul, who was well established by the 1940s as a writer of short stories and of poetry in traditional styles, stayed on in Iraq despite the harassments and ran a printing business there until he finally gave up and moved to Israel in 1971 at the age of 67.
Stephanie Petit reviews, The Mariner by Taleb Alrefai
This two-fold unravelling – the old captain’s solemn grief over what was lost, the sudden, perilous storm – make up an engaging novel which, in Russell Harris’s faultless translation, reads effortlessly and sustains the reader’s attention throughout. Because it runs in parallel with, and reflects back on, Villiers’s famous record it is an undoubtedly interesting story, but as a standalone work of fiction too it is a worthy addition to an already substantial body of literary references to Kuwait’s maritime past.

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