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Articles tagged "Libyan Literature"

Awaiting a Poem

They await you: The new poem They await your downpour through my soul My hands shaping your features I stand with my heart agape To observe this desolate world As it falls into ruin Blood covers everything Prayers no longer know Where to go I await you I listen for your cautious footfall Yes The world has become a graveyard But the sun rises The breeze caresses a girl’s cheek The sea does not forsake its blue The swallows tell me of my childhood Hidden beneath their wings And...

Homeless Rats: A Parable for Postrevolution Libya

Libyan writer and diplomat Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih’s Homeless Rats is a quasi-fantastic historical novel that offers considerable insight into Libyan culture and geography, in particular that of the Western Jebel Nafusa, which played a key role in Gaddafi’s ouster. The plot revolves around the efforts of members of a displaced tribe from the town of Mizda (Fagih’s birthplace) to cope with severe drought in the late 1940s, just before Libya’s Independence in 1951,...

Founding Fathers

Author’s note: The Iraq in the novel is an imaginary Iraq, and I tried to use it as a symbol for all the Arab countries. Most of the characteristics of the four dictators in the novel are derived from different Arab dictators. The one who wants to modify the axis of the earth and organizes a world conference for that is clearly related to Gadhafi. Each one of them represents a certain type of dictator. “That’s really them! Who would have believed it?” Adil...

O My Libya

We’ll go with you wherever you may go. Our palm trees blossom from your secret springs. Your face redeems us. When Nowhere’s left for you we’ll take your place. You will always be us when nowhere’s left to go. The flower cranes its neck upon your door. Arrogance avoids your path. Nights frolic, their stars bright as suns. The Pleiades usher in the dawn where young girls weave green fields        for that which is to...

White Birds in a Black Space

He said: You may walk into the spaces of mildness and obedience with the rebellious, the dreamers and the scared; you know that the city has been raped, that everything is permissible, impossible and chaotic. You may stand under the sun, write on its walls with the blood & wisdom which it has hidden in the memory box. White birds in a black space. Black birds in a white space. He said: With first light, we travel to water's edge; escape from the siege of dusty...

An Interview with Hisham Matar

Concern. I think that was what I craved. A warm and steady and unchangeable concern. In a time of blood and tears, in a Libya full of bruise-checkered and urine-stained men, urgent with want and longing for relief, I was the ridiculous child craving for concern. And although I didn't think of it then in these terms, my self-pity had soured into self-loathing. —Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men Hisham Matar was born in New York City in 1970 to Libyan parents and spent his...

Sabratha Fleeing

Here you are now sitting in a cafe in Sabratha, five openings in the iron fence, five openings exactly. You look at the right side of the Roman Theatre, you drink your bitter coffee, on the tip of your cup lie words and reminiscences. Your friend says, "Who knows? Maybe the driver has a limp. What's wrong with that?" Close to the mirror Diana Haddad's picture looks tired; the tea thermos obscures her left breast. So what, the tea has to stay hot. Count Basie plays the...

Preface to the Libya Issue of Words Without Borders, July 2006

When it comes to countries that have been locked away—or locked out of—the Western world, Westerners tend to believe that little happens there during the time that they are not paying attention. Like trees that fall in the middle of the forest without someone to witness them, third world countries like Libya must undergo some kind of comatose existence when the West stops looking at them, or so Westerners believe. The reader of these selections from Libya will quickly become...

Butterflies of Meaning

A poet's horizon Is filled with butterflies That's Afaf And Sakina, sending Her early morning messages To my sleepy day, Yussef the nonchalant Do worry at last When doing the same But Zeinab helped me To decide. Clicking is the decision Then she flew Like a summer cloud Doing what she did. What about Amal Clicking her cell phone Even in dreams Ringing makes her rush A beautiful ebony running With her soul in her mouth Hello! Lifting the phone The cell....

The Right Course

1 The Camel He adopted the jenny as his mount after a disastrous experience with the malice of camels. In fact, it was the spiteful behavior of this species that drove him to the she-ass. To quench the thirst of some camels in Tassili, he had been busy drawing water from a well, aided by a camel, which he had received from a foreigner in repayment for a loan, without ever imagining that any of the tales of this species' perfidy might come true. Just past noon, when the heat was...

Reckless Habits

The candlewick is close to my match, And the heart's eye Is startled of every shadow, So let me in slowly. A flung off illusion, The question no longer robs me of my alertness. I put A mediator for every dusty breast Wherever you spread your wheat. My whistle follows your braids Broken upon the hay, And the village that Your caftan's flowers farewelled Seduces me, Gurgles its cypresses in cafés' hookahs, And makes fun of my suspicion at the end of my...

Mint Flavored Hiccups

To Jean Genet I was anxiously staring at the walls in a room with drawn dark curtains. Father lay on the bed, his blind eyes peering into the ceiling, his hands searching for the pillow beside him. When he didn't find me there, he yelled my name. I rushed to him and lay beside him. He wrapped his arms round me and we both cried. In the morning he insisted, "We haven't slept together in one bed since you were forty days old." Later, without uttering a word, a guard came in...

Wet Sleeves

They meet every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday morning in front of the newspaper shop, where they discuss concerns of the day, most of them too old to remember their exact age, the years only evident by their wrinkled and parched faces, their trembling hands. Some blow their noses, some chew tobacco and some smoke, drawing at their cigarettes with great effort. Haj Bu-Zaid sneezes, looks at the locked door of the newspaper shop and says, the scoundrel is late. Perhaps he tripped over his...

The Sultan’s Flotilla

In ages of old, Jalu was a port city. People called it the "jewel of the seas." Its waters teemed with the ships of pirates and traders. Caravans arrived at Jalu laden with elephant tusk; its markets were replete with spices, slaves, sandal-even Chinese porcelain. All of the people of Jalu lived like Sultans, except the Sultan himself, who was condemned to endure a bizarre sort of apocalypse, a living nightmare so awful, he couldn't bear to rest his head on his pillow or close his...

The Locusts

The village follows a never-changing script: Things are today exactly as they were yesterday, which is the same as they were the day before, and a year before that. There is Omran, dutifully executing his daily chores, drawing water from the well using a bucket raised by a beast of burden. Now he's tossing daily feed to his livestock. Now he's moving back and forth with an ox, cutting a furrow in the ground. From the mountains through which so many tomorrows pass floats a sweet...

Terracina

"No, we can't do it with a military airplane because the commander of the base says he doesn't want trouble, but I think I found a solution. It's risky, but so is your situation." "Explain it to me." It hadn't been difficult to enter the base; they had recognized him right away. The difficult part was figuring out how to get out. Since his arrival, Terracina had felt more calm. Like an animal hiding in its den, breathing more freely but never forgetting that the enemy...
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