The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts in Announcements
A new podcast from The Arabist and ArabLit: BULAQ
bulaq-burnt ornage on turq - lores.jpg

I am so pleased and excited to be co-hosting a new podcast on books in, from, and about the Arab world with M Lynx Qualey of ArabLit. I read many more interesting books than I am able to review or write about and I can't think of anyone I'd rather discuss them with than MLQ. It should also be an opportunity to look at literary news, cases of censorship, and the kinds of debates and exchanges that books provoke in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Our first episode focuses on a novel about gay life in Cairo, "In The Spider's Room," and much more. 

This is an experiment and a labor of love. With the help of our producer (my amazing husband Issandr El Amrani) we are still working on improving the sound quality (i.e.  soundproofing my small office). We will also be tweaking the format as we go along. We hope you'll join us for the ride. You can subscribe in the iTunes Store.  

A new look

I was messing around with the blog yesterday and accidentally clicked the wrong button, breaking the old design. Rather than recreating it the way it was, I thought it was an occasion to begin a redesign of the blog that I had long wanted to do – to make it more simple, more adapted to today's mobile devices and high-resolution screens, to improve the typography and countless other things. That means that the old banner (in place, if I remember correctly, since the second redesign around 2005) has gone, or rather has been replaced with the fez logo above left. I know some readers will miss it, but it does not really make sense in an era of tiny vertically-oriented screens.

So I am starting slowly with this sparse look and will gradually refine it over the next few weeks. I hope that at the very least it will load faster, be more pleasant to read, and will have fewer distractions now that the sidebar is no longer there. Some elements will gradually come back. Some older posts that worked well with the previous design might be a little broken. But I am taking this as an incentive to start blogging a little more often, and perhaps a little differently, than before. 

Also – more news soon to come, something that many of you have asked for in the last few years. Stay tuned.

New book: Daesh is not the point

Friend of the blog Peter Harling, who recently founded, has just published Daesh is not the point: Counter-intuiting the Middle East. This is a collection of essays, including three (co-written with Sarah Birke and Alex Simon) that first appeared on this site over 2014 and 2015. It also features additional content, including a "postword" written by yours truly. If you liked those essays, and I know many of you did (they were hugely popular when first published), then please buy this book. Peter writes:

This books fights the Islamic State by not obsessing about it. As the Middle East continues to pass through a phase of historic upheaval and uncertainty, media coverage, political discourse and even policymaking remain largely fixated on the creature known as Daesh. Given the complexity of the forces driving change in the region, this Daesh-centricism is as reductionist as it is dangerous. This ebook aspires to step back from this mentality and present a measured, sensitive analysis of the long-term trends at work in the region. We have collected three previously published essays that acknowledge and explore Daesh for what it is: one constituent part in the region’s complex, fast-evolving ecosystem. Tying these essays together with new, unpublished analysis, we aim to lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding of the region’s convulsions.

The original essays have been removed from this site, but buy access to the ebook and you get the updated versions and support the Synaps project. Get it here.

Why do things look different?

Because the site has moved its hosting system. This is a work in progress and some recent comments may have been lost in transition. The site will be further changed over the course of the new few weeks and new features introduced. Stay tuned.

For those of you who subscribe via RSS, things should be fine as long as you used the RSS address used for several years — this one. Likewise, those who are subscribed to the site's Feedburner mailing list should have little interruption in service (see sidebar).

One advantage of this new system is that the site should be rendering much better on mobile devices.

And yes, I will be blogging more next week than I have in recent weeks — when burn-out, work and travel took all my time. But be patient with the site as I work out the kinks of this transition.