18: Is It a Beach Book?
In our last episode before a summer hiatus, we discuss a graphic novel about the life and art of the stars of Arab music and cinema; Egyptian writer Radwa Ashour’s memoir of studying at university in the United States in the 1970s; and the Moroccan writer Ahmed Bouanani’s novel The Hospital, out in English (alongside a new poetry collection, The Shutters) after nearly falling into oblivion.
- A record-breaking four of the 18 “PEN translates” prizes for 2018 are going to books translated from Arabic. They are: The Book of Cairo, edited by Raph Cormack, with various authors and translators; My Name is Adam by Elias Khoury,translated by Humphrey Davies; Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette; and The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, also translated by Jaquette.
- More about the great Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannouscan be found at the World Theatre Day website.
- A Seismography of Struggle: Towards a Global History of Critical and Cultural Magazines is a project of the French National Institute of Art History; an exhibition and talks were recently hosted by Kulte Gallery in Rabat.
- The Iraqi comix collectivethat was refused Swiss visasis Mesaha,and you can find more about them on their Facebook page.
- Lamia Ziade’s Ô Nuit Ô Mes Yeux is a stylish, charming illustrated text about the larger-than-life lives of Arab musicians. An excerpt titled “Fairouz in my Grandfather’s Shop,” translated into English by Edward Gauvin, appears in the July 2018 Words Without Borders. Ziade’s Bye Bye Babylon has been translated into English by Olivia Snaije.
- Another beach read is Radwa Ashour’s The Journey: Memoirs of an Egyptian Woman Student in America, translated by Michelle Hartman. Other portraits of the US discussed: Tawfiq al-Hakim in The Revolt of the Young, which has been translated by Mona Radwan; Yusuf Idris’s New York 80; Alaa al-Aswany’s Chicago, which was translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab Mustafa; Bahaa Abdelmeguid’s Sleeping with Strangers, translated by Chip Rossetti; and Sayyid Qutb.
- And—there is some debate over whether this is a beach read—but Moroccan author-filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani’s The Hospital, translated by Lara Vergnaud, and his The Shutters, translated by Emma Ramadan are newly out from New Directions Books, and get a recommendation both from Ursula and from MLQ.