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Everything you need to know about the world's great writers and emerging voices is being collected and shared on the English PEN Online World Atlas. Head over to the Atlas to create (or edit) a profile for your favourite author or book, leave a comment or contact another user, and discover your next great read. We believe that great writing has the power to change your life and change the world, one book at a time.

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.

Monday, April 13, 2009

News and Reviews: Arab Book World & a New Biography

There's a new issue of Arab World Books: as well as new poems, short stories and reviews, it includes an announcement that
The American University in Cairo is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the establishment of a center for translation studies that will contribute to the Arab region's cultural and intellectual life. Interested parties should contact Dr. Samia Mehrez.
There's more details in the Announcements section of the Forum. It's a publication of amazing range and depth, from a joint review of Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon to an essay entitled The Secret Sex Lives of the Philosophers [Ar], by Abdou Hikki. The site is constantly updated with profiles of Arab writers and new work in the various languages spoken in the Arab world. An excellent resource and space of important cultural debate.

The National has a review of what the article reveals is, unbelievably, the first biography - in any language - of a Palestinian poet. Alina Hoffman's My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness is not only a biography of Taha Muhammad Ali (published in English by Ibis Editions, founded by Hoffman and her partner, Peter Cole), but also, according to the National, a superb contextual history of Palestinian intellectual and artistic life over the last half-century. Writing in the Seattle Times, Richard Wallace comments that
Hoffman expands her biography of one remarkable man to include a community of writers and a wider theme: how major events in Israel's political history influence and affect a writer's voice and purpose.

Updated 6/5/09:
The New York Times has a review of Hoffman's biography of Ali, which expresses a warm welcome at her well-told anecdotes and distinct disquiet at anything resembling politics.

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