When he had come to Suez four years earlier to work in the cultural centre, he had had a vague dream that he would find himself in this isolation and that he would sort out the chaos into which his life had descended. He hadn’t dreamed of any major change or great deeds, but he had said that cutting off his ties to Cairo would help him see things differently and that he would at least be able to adapt to the new reality and, most importantly, he would be able to put in order his relationship with the past.
Comrade Dakhil and his friends in their olive-coloured uniforms descended on us from our roof, coming over the neighbouring roofs. They wandered about the house and went into all the rooms. As evidence, they presented comrade Dakhil with the rosaries they found and small prayer-disks of sacred earth used in prostration, and then they entered the kitchen
Because of the extraordinary state of emergency declared in America and Europe immediately after the terrorist incidents, I head directly from the coffeehouse to my Paris home. I am welcomed rather anxiously by my beloved house robot, Bahlul. His artificial intelligence programs system, which is linked to the internet, learned that danger threatens the entire inhabited world. The moment I arrive his eye’s cameras direct their electronic sensors
In the kitchen thirst fell down. His dreams trembled. The window was torn open, stabbed by lightning scattering in the hallways. His hands settled down and his soul reclined but there was nothing to lean on. They dived into clouds, drowning caught them and salt followed suit. Water flowed, sobbing until the walls were dry. The pictures flaked off the walls and glass leapt out of the wooden frames. The estrangement of his bed subdued, it makes him a nightcap.
My sister, whom I haven’t seen for more than two years, told me she was going to cross the sea in a rubber dinghy. She hung up and didn’t want to hear what I thought. She just said something profound and sentimental and entrusted her three children to my care in the event that she drowns. A few minutes later I tried to call the unfamiliar Turkish number but the phone had been turned off
Jonathan Wright’s seamless English rendering does full justice to the original, exhibiting a sureness of touch that fully captures the spirit of the Arabic version. Although the particular cultural context of the work will be unfamiliar to many English-speaking readers, Wright’s ‘page-turner’ translation has a universal appeal, and it is difficult not to be moved by the predicament of the narrator, with his dual identity of Isa and José, as he comes to terms with the reality of life in Kuwait.
was born in Hama in Syria. He was a prolific writer, poet, playwright and critic, publishing his first collection of poetry, al-Dhul al-Akhdhar [The Green Shadow] in 1967 and since then 17 further collections. He also published two novels, twenty-four plays, translated twenty-three books from English, including the Iliad, the Odyssey and a biography of George Orwell, and wrote a number of television series.
I named him Robin, based on the assurances of our bird-loving neighbour. When I expressed my doubt about the name due to the incomplete red ruff on his neck feathers, he told me: “This is a young bird. The full red has not yet appeared on his feathers.”
Suffering Syrians, beautiful Syrians, Syrian brothers fleeing death. You won’t reach the shores on rafts but will be born on beaches with the foam. Lost gold dust you are, melted gold dust, scattered, dulled. From abyss to abyss in the hollow of the sea of the Rum, with the star fish and her brother, the roving squid, the waves convey you under the light of Ursa Major, the Daughters of Na’sh.
BEFORE I SLEEP Although I/ no longer care about anything,/ and squander most of my time out of the house –/ for days / I haven’t changed the water of the flowers,/ and the books/ and cups/ and cigarette ends/ are content with a layer of dust – yet,/ I find time/ to feed the wolves of your absence/ before I sleep.
Banipal has been realizing a unique and twofold project within the sphere of cultural productions of the Arab world. For, on the one hand, it provides a space in which Arabic literary texts are set in motion, in a direct dialogue with literary texts in the English language, in terms of both content and form. And, on the other hand, it offers an historic opportunity that allows for the language of the self to be reflected in the language of the Other, through a continuous, diverse and profuse flux.
If I think back to my childhood and boyhood, I do not remember anything which demonstrated that my mother was primarily responsible for teaching me the principles of the Arabic language. Over time I have realised that we did not speak much in our house because silence and gesture were the prevalent languages then. My memory offers me only scattered fragments of the tales my grandmother offered ingeniously once she discovered her voice after her husband
Their fathers had had a special friendship. They had both fled the village of Samaria for Acre after the ’48 Nakba. Mufid’s father had got himself one of the shops offered to refugees and had opened a grocery, while Saber’s father had worked as a building labourer on the new Jewish settlements.
Doing turns around the same spot in the same place will never lead to anything. Every day you need what’s new and extraordinary. Set off then: run through impossible pathways so you touch limits, so you’re the first to make a discovery and reach the truth
We harvested half or, sometimes most of the olives, but did not grind them. They remained in a heap on the platform in front of the house. That was in October 1948 and [political] conditions were becoming worse; yet people continued to act as though nothing had happened
The 2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is awarded to Paul Starkey for his translation of the novel The Book of the Sultan’s Seal by Youssef Rakha, published by Interlink Books, USA. And the judges commended Jonathan Wright for his translation of the novel Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser, published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing
Father Sharbel had paid a visit to Iraq, returning with painful memories which found their way out at the slightest opportunity. Those close to him said that he had tired of life in the monastery and wished to return to Assyria; that the spirit of the place had taken possession of him