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Words Without Borders “stands as a monument to international collaboration and a shared belief in artistic possibility.” 
— 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Citation

Three-week Arabic Arts Festival at Kennedy Center

By David Varno

Tomorrow, February 23rd, marks the beginning of a massive three-week festival of Arabic arts and culture at the Kennedy Center in D.C., titled Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World. This will, by far, be the largest Arabic festival ever held on U.S. shores. Aside from music, dance and film, and in the midst of art installations, Arabic cuisine, and a souk, a series of literary events will begin on March 5th. Many of the authors and translators participating in the panels have contributed Arabic and French-language work to Words Without Borders. Below is a list of these authors and translators and the events they're featured in, with links to their work.

Visit the Kennedy Center's website for complete schedule and festival information.


íMigration, Exile and the Search for Identity,ë will feature Duna Ghali, on March 5, 2009, 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Ghali's íThe Psychiatrist,ë translated from the Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins.


Khaled Mattawa moderates íLiterature and the Real Arab World,ë on March 7, 2009, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. This panel includes fellow Words Without Borders authors Adiana Shibli and Radwa Ashur.

Mattawa has contributed translations of many Arabic works, including the poems of Saadi Youssef, and he wrote the preface to our Lybia Issue in July 2006, which he guest edited.

Adania Shibli was included in our anthology, The World Through the Eyes of Writers. Read her short story, íSilence,ë translated from the Arabic by Randa Jarrar.

Radwa Ashur's íA Clean Head,ë translated from the Arabic by Gretchen Head.


Later that Saturday, Anouar Benmalek and Abdourahman A. Waberi will appear on the panel íIn Other Words: Expatriate Arab Literature,ë at 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Benmalek's íLovers of Algeria,ë translated from the French by Joanna Kilmartin.

Excerpt from Waberi's In Ben's Footsteps, translated from the French by Nicole Ball and David Ball.

Mattawa will also moderate íContaining Multitudes: A Conversation with Arab American Writersë on Sunday March 8, 2009, 1:30-3:00 p.m.


Earlier that day, Fadhil Al-Azzawi and Gamal Al-Ghitani will participate in íArab Literature and the World of the Spirit and the Imagination,ë from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Al-Azzawi's íCell Block Five,ë translated from the Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins.

Gamal Al-Ghitani's íAnnihilation,ë from Pyramid Texts, translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies.


Finally, at the end of the day, Fady Joudah will moderate íPoetry, the Diwan of the Arabs in its Fourth Millennium: A Tribute to Mahmoud Darwish,ë from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Darwish's èHouse Work,ë translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah.

Published Feb 23, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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