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.
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.
Samir Naqqash's stirring novel Tenants and Cobwebs nostalgically commemorates the lost culture of an ancient Iraqi Jewish minority living amidst a majority Muslim population in 1940s Baghdad. The plot unfolds during a time of great turmoil: the rise of Iraqi nationalism and anti-Jewish sentiment fueled by Nazi propaganda; the Farûd, a bloody pogrom carried out against Jewish residents of Baghdad in 1941; and the founding of Israel in 1948. These pivotal events profoundly affected Muslim-Jewish relationships, forever changing the nature of the Jewish experience in Iraq and eventually leading to a mass exodus of Iraqi Jews to Israel in 1951.
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
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.
The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has pleasure in inviting you to Celebrate Translating Arabic Fiction Today Robin Moger, Jonathan Wright & Paul Starkey – the winners of the last three years of the prize – in conversation with Wen-chin Ouyang 5.00pm, Saturday 3 March Djam Lecture Theatre, SOAS Main Building, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG Robin Moger’s winning translation is The Book of Safety by Yasser Abdel Hafez, Jonathan Wright won the 2016 prize for The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi, and Paul Starkey won the 2015 prize for The Book of the Sultan's Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars by Youssef Rakha. This is a free event but do reserve your place by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ALL WELCOME
'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
The door of the room opened with a soft creak. A weak, faint light crept into the room, and I could see a figure standing in the doorway. Suddenly the light switched on, overpowering me so that I could not see anything. I saw a tall man with a pale face enter the room, pointing a black object at me. He said with a high-pitched voice ringing strangely in the silence, “I believe you are Dr. Sherif Hetata?”
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
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.