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The Atlas is proud to be partnering with the Hay Festival's Beirut39 contest, celebrating Beirut's year as UNESCO World Book Capital, to find the hottest authors under 40 of Arabic origin. Nominations are open until August 24th, 2009.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TLS plays Shahrzad

The new Arabian Nights translation has sent the TLS into a frenzy of attention over the Arabic-speaking world. This week's issue (5521), has a review of the luscious 3-volume set, while Robert Irwin reviews Rasheed El-Enany's Naguib Mahfouz: Egypt's Nobel Laureate (also reviewed by Ziad Elmarsafy last year in the THE) and William M. Hutchin's translation of Mahfouz's major early novel Cairo Modern.

Architecture, History & Social Studies, and Religion & Politics are all occupied with books about the Middle East, its culture and relation to the Western world, including Doris Behrens-Abouseif's Cairo of the Mamluks, which would make an interesting companion read to Mahfouz. In Fiction, acclaimed translator Marilyn Booth reviews Arabic Booker-winner Bahaa Taher's Love in Exile, as translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab, and Anita Sethi reviews Ashes of the Amazon, by the Brazilian Lebanese writer Milton Hatoum and transalted by John Gledson.

There's also a curious entry in Bibliography: Fernando Báez's A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern Iraq, whose historical and geographical spread suggestively identifies book-burning with the Middle East. In his review, Felix Pryor is dismissive of the books haphazard catalogue, but doesn't comment on the implications of the title. At the very least, it's not in keeping with the issue, which celebrates new(ish) publications from and about the long history of Arab culture.

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