Tenants and Cobwebs by Samir Naqqash coming soon

Tenants and Cobwebs by Samir Naqqash
Translated from the Arabic by Sadok Masliyah
Forthcoming Fall 2018 by Syracuse University press

” Naqqash brings a lost Baghdadi world to life in all its richness and complexity. Masliyah’s long-awaited translation of this modernist masterpiece is a major boon for scholars and enthusiasts of modern Arabic fiction as well as Iraqi history and culture.”

-Lital Levy, author of Poetic Trespass: Writing Between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palastine

“This first extended English translation continues the process of fully recognizing the depth and profundity of Naqqash’s human vision and his stature as a major twentieth-century writer.”
-Ammiel Alcalay, author of After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture

“A rare work of fiction in terms of language, history, and contemporary politics of pluralistic cultures.”
-Shakir Mustafa, editor of Contemporary Iraqi Fiction

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.
Tenants and Cobwebs deftly narrates the lives of Jewish characters who refuse to leave Baghdad despite these tumultuous times as well as those who are compelled to leave but nonetheless cling to the life they know. While the Jewish residents appear to live peacefully and harmoniously in the same Baghdad apartment complex as their Muslim neighbors, Naqqash gives voice to their conflicting thoughts and feelings, revealing the deepening tensions between the two groups. His innovative use of Baghdadi Jewish and Muslim dialects captures the complex and nuanced emotions of his characters. Masliyah’s skillful translation gives English-language readers access to one of the most imaginative and ambitious Middle Eastern authors of the twentieth century.

Samir Naqqash (1938-2004) was a Jewish Iraqi novelist, short-story writer, and playwright who emigrated from Iraq at the age of thirteen. Naqqash wrote in Arabic despite living most of his life in Israel. In 2004, he received the Israeli Prime Ministerial Award for Arabic Fiction.

Sadok Masliyah was assistant professor of Arabic and Hebrew at several American universities and the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. He has published studies on Arabic literature, Iraqi folklore, and spoken dialects, including his most recent book, The Formation of Quadrilateral Verbs in Iraqi Dialects.

Paper $34.95 978-0-8156-1108-0
Ebook 978-0-8156-5461-2
6 x 9, 384 pages, glossary
Series: Middle East Literature in Translation

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