This month we continue our exploration of the Arab Spring with literature from the countries of the uprisings. Moving from North Africa to the Middle East, we present writing from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen.  In prison memoirs and comic fiction, from the distance of exile and the immediacy of the barricades, writers interpret both the insurrections and the contexts in which they occurred, providing an invaluable perspective from which to consider this ongoing revolution.

We open with an interview with Rafik Schami, whose work has been banned in his native Syria for forty years, discussing the tortured history and uncertain future of his country. Cécile Oumhani and Syrian poet Aïcha Arnaout discuss writing the revolt. Jordan's Elias Farkouh finds a child's dream day ends in a nightmare, while Beirut39 honoree Mohammed Hasan Alwan observes a young man's musical (and sentimental) education. Bahraini poet-activist Ali Al Jallawi recalls his brutal arrest and imprisonment. On the brink of his departure from Yemen, Mohammed Algharbi Amran's young medical student confronts the past, and the father, he's never known.  And Arab Booker nominee Wajdi Muhammad Abduh al-Ahdal tests the grammar of freedom.

Elsewhere, in a gathering of Scandinavian poets, Rune Christiansen ponders memory and death, Thomas Boberg feels dejection, Frederik Bjerre Andersen invents a character, and Gunnar Harding looks back fifty-five years.

Four Scandinavian Poets


When the snow covers your grave you have forgotten the snow.

A Telephone Conversation

You were unique, like / we all are unique.


The shadow-play of thoughts / exposed what words concealed.

Main Character

His face is a baby’s bottom. And yet. Not.

Book Reviews

Lars Kepler’s “The Hypnotist”

Certain aberrations of human behavior seem guaranteed to provoke widespread fascination, and perhaps none more so than a mother-child bond gone terribly awry. How else to account for people traveling...

Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Max Neumann’s “Animalinside”

"Animalinside" is a cultural event in itself.

Quim Monzó‘s “Guadalajara”

Monzó is a master of the open-ended conclusion; his characters are often left hovering either on the brink of breakthrough, or of a perfect replay of their previous errors


You won’t believe me when I tell you that I am meeting my son for the first time.

Declining Freedom

The assailant had pulled the niqab from her face during the struggle.

God After Ten O’Clock

I could kill you and throw your corpse in the garbage.

Dolls and Angels

When Hannan was within a few steps of her house, she saw everything.

The Fountain

Rags of screams, a flight of black cloth.