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
Summer Banipal is a chance to present a host of great reading opportunities, and our focus theme The Longlist, featuring novels from the longlists of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction over the last two years, offers precisely that. In a number of previous issues we have published, in collaboration with the IPAF Banipal 59 – The Longlist is packed with features, including for the first time a Guest Poet translated from Spanish – the great Angel Guinda who is recognised as “one of the most necessary and original poets in Spanish literature”, and “an incorruptible voice”. We are also proud to present, following features in earlier issues on Arabic literature in Japan and China, a fascinating essay by Russian Arabist Viktoria Zarytovskya on “Arabic Literature in Russia”, from its first translations of the Qura’n to the lack of translators today
The identity crisis so keenly experienced by some of the characters in the novel is as personal as it is political. For example, “Darwish’s book” in the first chapter is Albert Hourani’s History of the Arab Peoples. Now dying of lung cancer, Professor Darwish begins to ponder the figurative cancer in all of his failed relationships. Hourani’s book opens a window into this dark world.
When the night descends on my house I will brew it chamomile tea Or bitter black coffee I will tell it a story of love and discard I...
Fayad, who was born in Bogota in 1945, said he never thought he would write a book about Lebanese emigration to the Americas, and especially to Colombia, but eventually explored that topic in “La caida de los puntos cardinales” (The Fall of the Cardinal Points). “And why? Any Colombian could’ve written it, and I wrote it because I had direct exposure to the stories of my grandparents, of my great-uncles, who were the ones who made the trip.
Khaled Khalifa writes about his native city with sensuality and an almost feral intensity in his new novel, “No Knives in the Kitchens of This City.” The book focuses on just one family, and it stops several years short of the Syrian civil war. But it offers a glimpse into how terrified and empty of hope the people of a city must be to rise up in revolt. The future offers them nothing. It is a castle of closed doors.
Banipal’s core mission is to bring readers gems, in translation, from the wealth of creative writing being produced across the Arab world today. Banipal 57 – Syria in the Heart brings you twelve Syrian authors, and in addition, two from Palestine and Iraq. The focus on Arab literary modernism and its pioneers has been postponed on account of this most urgent subject of the future of Syria.
Time has its own rhythm in Kuwait city, and two years later, Kawthar, in her late twenties approaches her father once again and tells him she would like to buy an apartment of her own. “This had the effect of an electric shock on him . . . I would have liked to tell him that the world had changed, that I had the right to live my life in peace, as I saw fit to.”
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