27: Where Do I Start?
What should you recommend to someone who is interested in exploring Arabic literature? We tackle this big question this week; we also talk about the authors short-listed on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and about North African literature in English translation.
There are many opinions on where you should start with Arabic literature. Back in 2010, Ursula’s five-to-read-before-you-die were: Memory for Forgetfulness, Mahmoud Darwish; Season of Migration to the North, Tayyeb Saleh; The Trilogy or Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz; Bleeding of the Stone, Ibrahim al-Koni; Youssef Idris’s stories in Arabic.
The shortlist for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, for the first time, features more women writers than men. MLQ was already profiling shortlisted writer Shahla Ujayli: outtakes from the interview are on ArabLit, where you can also read a long Q&A with the translator of Ujayli’s A Sky So Close to Us, Michelle Hartman.
The long list of 100 Algerian books available in English translation, put together by Nadia Ghanem also comes with a 6-book starter kit from Dr. Ghanem and MLQ. Next up are Moroccan and Tunisian literatures in translation.