Today would have been Saudi-Iraqi novelist Abdelrahman Munif’s 81st birthday. Although a great craftsman of the 20th century Arabic novel, his literary legacy goes largely un-celebrated.
Perhaps the most cringe-worthy part of ABC Family’s “Alice in Arabia” announcement was its creator’s apparent assertion that she had written the show not just for the fame and fortune (a motive we can all understand), but “to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV.”
Just a few days after all the works by Saudi publisher Arab Network for Research and Publishing were removed from the Riyadh International Book Fair for violating the Kingdom’s laws, the works of globally celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish caused protests and have reportedly been withdrawn from the fair and are not to be sold.
The giant Riyadh International Book Fair is set to close on Friday, and this year’s fair has not been without its explosive event.
A novel where the “days are all much the same, bringing nothing new” is a difficult thing to pull off. And Fahd al-Atiq’s “Life on Hold,” trans. Jonathan Wright, couldn’t be characterized as a page-turner. But the book does manage to craft a compelling narrative about the contradictions of contemporary Riyadh even as the protagonist remains stranded in nowhere-land
The Muscat International Book Fair in Oman, which closes tomorrow and has in the past seen 800,000-some visitors, saw an infrastructural push this year. Meanwhile, the giant Riyadh Book Fair — which sees between one and two million visitors — opened on March 5.
With translated work by twelve significant Saudi authors, from Abdulrahman Munif (1933-2004) to Rajaa Alsanea (1981- ).
It is not unusual to receive notes about books banned in Saudi Arabia. But the science fiction novel HWJN was one of the country’s top-sellers since its release late April. Ibraheem Abbas and Yasser Bahjatt’s novel — trans. Bahjatt — has also gotten tremendous word-of-mouth buzz on Twitter. Now, the book has been charged with blasphemy and devil-worshiping and is no longer being sold at major stores in the KSA.
Although al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Jeddah theatre artists “ruled out” calling for a Saudi “theatre spring,” the Saudi Gazette noted Sobahi’s participation in the Edinburgh Fringe as a break-through for Saudi theatre; it certainly was much-covered in UK press. Sarah Irving reviews the show.
It was 2007 when “Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak” was published.
This June, the Shubbak Festival in London brought together authors Jana Elhassan and Mohamed Hassan Alwan in conversation with BBC broadcaster, writer, and arts critic Bidisha. Attending the event were representatives of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Banipal magazine, as well as literary translators, bloggers, critics and readers. ArabLit contributor Amira Abd El-Khalek was there.
Popular Saudi writer Turki al-Hamad has been released after five months in detention. Al-Hamad, like Saudi poet Hamza Kashgari, was detained for a series of tweets.