Often, we contemporary English-language readers look to authors as our world’s moral compasses. Sometimes it works, and they lead us true. Great authors speak some sort of truth, at least about their particular obsessions. But mediocre, good, even great authors — Knut Hamsun usually comes to mind — sometimes follow their compass into ugliness.
This year, 2014CE, hasn’t been a very particularly good one for real-world human ventures. Fortunately, however, it has been an excellent one for Arabic literature in translation: Iman Humaydan Younes’s circling “Other Lives”; Radwa Ashour’s emotional “Tantoureya” and “Blue Lorries”; Jabbour Douaihy’s sharp “June Rain”; Sonallah Ibrahim’s compelling “Stealth” was re-issued; two more volumes of the incredible “Leg over Leg”; several interesting collections. But the book that has made my year, thus far, is Amjad Nasser’s “Land of No Rain.”
“For the poetic parts I couldn’t forget Eliot of course, who sometimes hovers there. I even cheated and slipped some Eliot in, with Amjad’s permission.”
The 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been awarded — to Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad — but yesterday, IPAF Board of Trustees’ chair Yasir Suleiman noted that there are many gems to be found on the prize’s longlists. Richard Cozzens here reviews Ibrahim Nasrallah’s longlisted Edge of the Abyss for 7iber and ArabLit, a novel he says is, in its best moments, about violence and the act of creation.
“Land of No Rain’s” English-language launch has been postponed.
What stands between a book and its Jordanian reader? Why did Susan Abulhawa’s “Mornings in Jenin” fail to satisfy the press and publications law, or Hassan Blasim’s “Madman of Freedom Square”? How does censorship work?
The literary magazine CutBank, launched in 1973, is a literary magazine produced by creative writing graduate students at the University of Montana in Missoula. In Issue 80, they’ve published an excerpt from Hisham Bustani’s novel The Perception of Meaning titled “Apocalypse Now.” Editor-in-chief Rachel Mindell talked about the magazine’s relationship to translated literature.
In June 2012, Eman Hylooz and Tamim Al Manaseer co-founded Abjjad, an Arabic social network for books with a big vision.
The magazine The Common is publishing its first work of Arabic literature in translation in Issue 6, which is set to be released on October 28. We asked a few questions about the process of Jennifer Acker, the magazine’s founding editor and editor in chief, and of Hisham Bustani, whose work is featured in the magazine.
And so it begins: a ban on Jordanian news websites that have not registered and/or been licensed by the government’s Press and Publications Department.
Author Hisham Bustani and translator Thoraya El-Rayyes discuss how they have worked together to translate Bustani’s stories.
In Jordan today, many websites have gone offline to protest proposed government censorship plans that include new restrictions on the Internet: