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Articles tagged "Arabic Literature"

The Translator Relay: Kareem James Abu-Zeid

WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator each month. This month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question.  For September’s installment, Ming Di passed the baton to Kareem James Abu-Zeid, an award-winning translator of Arabic literature. What is your connection to the language(s) you translate from and/or the place(s) where the books you translate are written?...

She, You, and I

Darling, tell me that when we love, we’re not awaiting a reward or reciprocity. And that love is greatest when it’s fruitless, when feelings are more powerful, more real. What’s the point of love without suffering? Every time I contend with love, a new life is born in the fight. The anxiety I endure makes me feel my pulse, makes me feel I’m alive. I’m only happy when I’m seeking these things, not when I find them, because isn’t the footpath through...

Nom de Guerre: Butterfly

That evening, I was sitting on my bed. Tala was jumping up and down on her bed next to mine, making it squeak annoyingly. She was jabbering away but I wasn’t following what she was saying because I was busy building my own world inside my head. Tala kept running in and out of the room. I didn’t notice how long she was gone. I just sat there, lost in thought. That is, until the time the sound of Salim sobbing came into the room before Tala did. As soon as I saw him, I hurried...

The Poet Cannot Stand Aside: Arabic Literature and Exile

Fourteen hundred years ago and more, the poet-prince Imru’ al-Qais was banished by his father. The king exiled his son, or so the legend goes, in part because of the prince’s poetry. Thus it was that, when the king was killed by a group of his subjects, al-Qais was traveling with friends. Al-Qais returned to avenge his father’s death, but afterward spent the rest of his life in exile, fleeing from place to place, writing poetry and seeking support to regain his...

Isolation

It's hot, hot enough to suffocate. There is nothing except this table upon which I sleep, a rectangular hall with four doors and twelve windows. On each side a door. On the shorter sides, two windows, each with a door between them, and on the longer sides, two windows to the left of the door and two to the right. The town is absolutely empty but for the sound of my thoughts straying from me to the point of anger. Alone I am in this hall, alone on the table, alone in the town, I, alone,...

A Condition

You’re certain that nothing will dissuade you now. Nothing. Not your neighbors’ invitation to the luncheon to celebrate their boys’ circumcision. Not the kind old lady’s pleading to help her write a letter to her faraway son who never visits. Not the laughter of your three-year-old boy (whose laughter—you would say—sounds like a gurgling stomach). Not the mischievous way he clung to the collar of your jallebeya when you saw him outside just a few moments...

Biting their Mother Tongue: Three Sudanese Short Stories about Estrangement

The three short stories collected here offer a glimpse into contemporary Sudanese understandings of estrangement, a theme with a long history in Arabic letters. From the pre-Islamic renegade poets who chose exile over the social constraints of tribal life to the medieval debates about the treatment of non-Muslims and other foreigners, the intertwined questions of estrangement and belonging have run through Arabic literature. In pre-Islamic times, wandering poets such as Ta’abbata...

from “The Amman Bride”

We really needed to talk. This was a difficult situation that we needed to find a way out of. He absolutely refused to share me with anyone else, and he wasn't prepared to lead a life with me where he was in the shadows, constantly in second place after my family. And he certainly didn't want to be my secret lover or be complicit in deceiving someone else, an innocent person. But I do want to get married and to have a family, both of which would be impossible with him. I...

The Week in Translation

GO Readings what: Hassan Blasim reads from his latest collection of short stories, The Iraqi Christ, translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright. when: December 10-12 where: Newcastle, Manchester, London more info: http://ow.ly/fXfx5 what: Translating Turkish Literature with Aron Aji when: Tuesday, December 11, 12:30-1:30pm where: 111 Minna Street Gallery (Minna @ Second St), San Francisco more info: http://ow.ly/fXg7Z.

Declining Freedom

Translator’s Note:  In Wajdi al-Ahdal’s novel Donkey in the Choir, Tha’ira, the rebellious wife of a Yemeni politician, has neglected work on her master’s degree since her marriage to Ali Jibran.  Morning excursions through Sanaa provide her some relief from the boredom of her sequestered life. Meanwhile a serial killer has moved into the Hulqum neighborhood of Sanaa. Once the killing spree begins, the subsequent police investigation quickly identifies a...

Hanzala

It’s August 2000, and I’m overwhelmed by this emotional leavetaking. It’s the first time you’ve ever dreaded visiting your grandfather al-Atawi, but it’s because you’re saying good-bye—before you depart for Baghdad. We never thought you would travel overseas and leave us. Sanaa is twenty-seven kilometers west of your grandfather’s village, Hisn Arfata. You have persuaded me that you can say good-bye to your grandfather without telling...

God After Ten O’Clock

The State Security Building: The First Arrest of the Seagull It was maybe three or four o'clock, or maybe sometime in between. Why am I trying to establish an exact time? Curses on the clock that forces me to define my movements, my sleep, my mealtimes... The time was __________. I think it's better that way, isn't it? I jumped up, rubbing my eyes, at the sound of violent banging on the door of the house, and looked down at the courtyard from the window of my room. My...

from “The Future of the Arabic Language”

What is the future of the Arabic language? Language is but one manifestation of the power of invention in a nation’s totality or public self. But if this power slumbers, language will stop in its tracks, and to stop is to regress, and regression leads to death and extinction. Therefore, the future of the Arabic language is tied to the presence or absence of invention in all the countries that speak Arabic. Where invention is present, the future of the language will be glorious...

from The White Fly

The White Fly (2000) is the first Arabic detective novel translated into English. Set in contemporary Tangier, Morocco, the narrative follows Detective Laafrit as he investigates the case of four dead bodies that have washed up on the city's beaches. While the victims initially appear to be harraga-or illegal immigrants-who regularly drown in the Straits of Gibraltar trying to reach Spain in small fishing boats, Laafrit quickly discovers that one of them has been brutally shot dead....

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