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Stephanie Petit reviews, The Slave Yards, a novel by Najwa Bin...

The Slave Yards a novel by Najwa Bin Shatwan Translated by Nancy Roberts published by Syracuse University Press, May 2020 ISBN: 9780815611257. Pbk $24.95 & eBook.   Layers of...

“Baghdad Noir” Presents A City Of Diverse Experiences

Yes, some of these stories go on too long, or have uneven structures, or leave out details that might make them stronger, but I was captivated by seeing how different they all were, how all of these accomplished writers deal with a genre they hadn't played around with before (at least not much). Some of Akashic's Noir titles take place in regions known for idyllic conditions, and their power derives from the contrast. That these writers have wrested surprise from a country with so little peace makes Baghdad Noir one of the most interesting of the lot.

Shadi Rohana reviews Palestine +100 edited by Basma Ghalayini

Some of the stories that include Israelis as their protagonists (with the exception of Dabbagh’s “Sleep it Off, Dr Schott”), for example, rather than attempting to engage with the nuances of the Israeli state from within wind up with trivializing Israeli society, and consequently trivializing Palestinians and the nature of the conflict

Ahmed Saadawi and Banipal magazine

'It's wonderful that an august specialist magazine such as Banipal has been active for all these years, providing an outstanding service that essentially has nothing to do with commerce or profit-making, but aims to build bridges between the Arab world and Europe through the English language. "I’m proud that the first creative writings of mine to be translated into English appeared in the pages of Banipal magazine, and the magazine continues to offer texts by Iraqi creative artists who are my colleagues, and by a large group of other Arab writers from a variety of countries

A Cloudy Day on the Western Shore by Mohamed al-Mansi Qandil 

A Cloudy Day on the Western Shore explores questions of Egypt’s identity and history, and the implications—for better or worse—of European exploitation of the treasures of pharaonic civilization. Novelist Qandil skillfully allows readers to encounter complex questions of colonialism, gender, and sectarianism—all through the symbolic lens of an unlikely Egyptian heroine.

Suheir Abu Oksa Daoud reviews: An Introduction to Modern Arab Culture...

This book is an excellent resource for the general reader, and for undergraduate and graduate students. It provides very useful and important analysis and thoughtful discussion on major questions and issues influencing the region’s cultural dynamics. It is also a good source to establish deeper understanding of the range of the complex issues in the Middle East—an important and rapidly changing area of the world.

Aldo Nicosia reviews Al-Digla fi ‘Arajiniha by Béchir Khraief

Mekki organizes evening classes to educate his fellow workers, and then a general strike. All that happens in November 1928 – the French army intervenes heavily and many are killed or jailed in the capital. Thwarted by the failure of his nationalist dreams, Mekki is not even able to find consolation with prostitutes. Infected with a venereal disease, he decides to go back to his village.

Susannah Tarbush reviews “Sophia: or, The Beginning of All Tales”...

In this exuberant novel, the Syrian-German author Rafik Schami weaves an intricate tapestry of love, sectarianism, exile, oppression and revolution, extending from the late 1920s to early 2011. The rich 444-page non-linear narrative presents a multitude of characters and storylines in settings from Damascus, Homs and Beirut to Rome and the German city of Heidelberg

Editorial Banipal 66 Autumn/Winter 2019

In this issue we publish poems by two outstanding poets, who are considered the most important voices in Arabic poetry today, the Emirati Abdel Aziz Jassim and the Palestinian Samer Abu Hawwash. Then there are excerpts from two excellent novels, Autumn of Innocence by Abbas Beydoun, so well known for his poetry, who in recent years has turned to writing novels, and the critically acclaimed Elias by the talented Egyptian author Ahmad Abdulatif, who promises the reader ’a fresh vision of history’. The main feature, TRAVELS, presents works by five innovative and established authors

Raja Alem :Reading the infidels in Mecca

I continued to filch from his bag until I was shocked to find The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade, which I never admitted to stealing and didn’t even dare read at the time. But the true opening came with Maxim Gorky’s The Mother, which I found by accident in my maternal grandfather’s drawer. Gorky’s revolution roared through my mind, and forged my vision of the role I had to play as an agent of change in the world around me. Because my mother is of Russian origin

Iraqi Fiction in Banipal magazine 61

Banipal has always paid great attention to Iraqi literature. Over the years we have published features containing both fiction and poetry. This issue marks the first time we have concentrated solely on the Iraqi novel and not included poetry. This is purely to introduce some good examples of Iraqi novels, not for any other reason. It was not in our mind to make any judgement between fiction and poetry. Four Iraqi critics write in this feature that Iraqi intellectuals are nowadays expressing themselves through fiction, not poetry.

Alaa al-Deeb:The Defeated Leftist Intellectual article by Mansoura Ez-Eldin

This 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.

Susannah Tarbush reviews The Fetishists: The Tuareg Epic by Ibrahim al-Koni Translated by William...

In The Fetishists it is the love of two rivals for the Sultan of Timbuktu’s daughter Princess Tenere that leads to a wager. She has been unable to choose between the two suitors: “Her freedom led to her falling in love with Okha’s nobility, grandeur, and dedication to ceremony at the same time that she loved Udad’s heart and fondness for singing and the mountains.”An intermediary conveys the wager from Okha to Udad: “If you can climb up Idinen and stand on its top vertical slab, he will relinquish the princess.” Udad accepts the bet. His name means Barbary ram, and he is known for his climbing skills.

Margaret Obank reviews: The Arab Renaissance: A Bilingual Anthology of the Nahda Edited by Tarek...

To the ordinary reader, reading Arabic literature in translation today, the title The Arab Renaissance might be a little perplexing. What Renaissance? and when? The Nahda period covers roughly a hundred years, ending almost 100 years ago. The Nahda, or “awakening”, was a time of burgeoning Arab cultural and political modernity with projects that flowed through all parts of society and politics, literature, culture, press and journals, publishing, education, with an ideal of knowledge, secularism, and reform of language, based on the western Enlightenment.

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.

Banipal 64 Spring issue features Hanan al-Shaykh

We present works by two poets, opening the issue with the late Lebanese poet and translator Bassam Hajjar ten years after his untimely passing. “His poems are circulating among young Arab poets today who find them pioneering and inspirational,” wrote Abbas Beydoun in a 10th anniversary feature on the poet. Iraqi poet Adnan Mohsen, settled in Paris since 1981, writes poems of “the ordinary, the familiar and the quotidian in lyrical form”. Earlier poems in Banipal 8, Summer 2000, were translated from their original French by James Kirkup, who wrote of Mohsen’s “spare, muscular style”.

The Time Wanderer excerpts from a novel by Iraqi writer Fadhil...

But suddenly, something happened that saved my life. As a young writer, I had been publishing poems, short stories and articles for years, in the local newspapers and magazines, under the pseudonym “Shakespeare of Baghdad”. The name caught the attention of military commanders, who were looking for writers and journalists to work in their propaganda wing, and began looking into my whereabouts, until in the end they found me and pulled me out of the hole where I had been buried

The 100 best Arabic Novels

The title feature The 100 best Arabic novels is a new up-to-date list in response to the greatly increased popularity of novels in the Arab world. The introduction explains how it was prepared and nominations ranked. To whet your appetite, here are the first five: Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, the Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz, For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri, The Secret Life of Saeed The Pessoptimist by Emile Habiby and Children of the Alley, also by Naguib Mahfouz.

Banipal Magazine 68 – Arabic Short Stories

In the feature we introduce, for the first time in Banipal, and in the main in English too, four of the finalists, including the winner, and three further great short story writers, with 21 very diverse, engaging and thoughtful stories, which comment on the uneven vagaries of life today and on the pulls of human emotions and desires

Banipal Magazine 67 Special feature on Lebanese writer Elias Khoury

The feature, “Elias Khoury, The Novelist”, opens with three excerpts from his latest novel Stella Maris, the second part of the trilogy, translated by the inimitable Humphrey Davies. It is followed by essays, articles on the corpus of novels, and reviews. The excerpts from Stella Maris pinpoint the endless contradiction that Adam lives, so he must “divide Adam into two halves, one for presence and one for absence”, and though victims are enveloped in silence and “stripped of language” in the face of humanity’s barbarity, the essence of civilisation is that language is “the only tool the dead can use to speak”.
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