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Instead of introducing examples of this [anti-Zionist] intelligentsia, Stock is happy to instead toss out generalizations such as:This whole imbroglio only serves to highlight the Egyptian literati's generally hateful and hidebound views of Israel, which are often more virulent than those of the Egyptian public at large.
One example, please ?
I don't doubt that examples galore could be dug up (after all, examples of every opinion under the sun are readily found) -- but, hey, how about digging up at least one to appease me? (And surely it's telling that he doesn't: is there any name he could come up with that any of us would recognize -- Gamal al-Ghitani? Sonallah Ibrahim? [the writers I'd consider among the cream of Egyptian literati and intelligentsia] even Alaa al-Aswany ? Somehow I suspect these guys haven't been spouting "hateful and hidebound views" -- so who has? By which I mean: who has who can in any way be taken seriously, as al-Ghitani and Ibrahim and even al-Aswany can.)
If I Were Another Mahmoud Darwish, trans. from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-17429-3PW Reviews 17 Aug 2009
This second volume by the late, great Palestinian poet Darwish (1941–2008) to be translated by Palestinian-American doctor/poet Joudah comprises four nonconsecutive books of longer poems spanning 1990 to 2005. These works follow Darwish's poetic development from a historically focused middle period to the devastatingly personal lyric-epic of his late style. Formally varied—Rubaiyats alternate with sprawling free-form poems, in which prose paragraphs meet both long and short verse lines—Darwish's Sufi-inspired poetry probes, admires, describes, longs for and questions. His subjects are often broad: the inheritance and disinheritance of lands, languages and histories. Sometimes, though, he turns to concrete need, confessing, for example, in “Mural,” his book-length poem about a brush with death: “I want to walk to the bathroom/ on my own.” But Darwish's poems are at their most singular and powerful when he collapses the boundaries between great and small concerns, as when he articulates, “Wars teach us to love detail: the shape of our door keys,/ how to comb our wheat with eyelashes and walk lightly on our land.” The stakes of this work—for Darwish and for his readers—are clear: “O my language,/ help me to adapt and embrace the universe.” (Nov.)
3.5. The Turban and the Hat ends with the image of Dr Shukri waking up at 5 am to prepare for his return to the homeland -- only to find that copy of the conference programme on which he had written his address for Celine to have on the floor outside the door to his room.
3.5.1. "I picked it up to find a line in pencil beneath my address... 'My response is precisely that you are a naive, backward human being.' I put the programme in my handbag and proceeded to the lift with heavy steps."
4. An Arab novel about the Egyptian Campaign cannot go beyond that image.
like a shepherd watching over a flock of wayward, reckless versions of himself. He gives these selves free rein to act out their crises and victories, and they in turn reveal to him various shades of the glory and folly of human nature. Their flaws recounted and noted, he shepherds them home at the end of the day and closes the stable door behind him.
rich mix of concrete detail and metaphorical flight that the book achieves its undoubtedly haunting effect. The tale is told with remarkable simplicity and in a tone that can be universally understood, yet its texture and details, in some case quite unfathomably, remains Arabic, and rooted specifically in the Palestinian earth. One doubts whether anything similar exists in the dishearteningly burgeoning literature of political exile, asylum, and flight.Barghouti fans can follow news of his publications and events by friending him on Facebook.
In a characteristically outlandish twist, the Sheikhs have now decided to set their mores on sexuality down in stone by commissioning a gargantuan eunuch—which is to lord over Dubai’s Zabeel Park, fifty hectares smack in the middle of what is now some of the world’s most valuable real estate. At over one hundred and fifty feet, the statue of Al-Hakawati “the storyteller” would relegate Rhodes’ Colossus to an also-ran.
in what is arguably a ploy by Abu Dhabi’s reigning Nahyan clan to style themselves after the Medicis and establish their city as the artistic counterweight to Dubai’s financial hub. The audiovisual jewel in their tiara is “The Prince of Poets”—a contest held at the Al Raha Beach Theatre on the outskirts of the island emirate. Run along the lines of “American Idol,” thousands of applications are processed until a select thirty-five poets compete in the broadcasts which unfold over the course of ten weeks.As for the Medicis, this patronage of art has inspired some heated exchanges in Arab literary community and blogosphere, and casts a revealing light on the sociocultural makeup of the Emirates.
Take the first season when there were claims that the judges, hoping to foster a sense of national pride, awarded first prize to the Emarati Maatouk, while the far more popular Palestinian Barghouti came in fifth. Barghouti, whose father, Mourid is the author of I Saw Ramallah, could no doubt take solace in the not inconsiderable cheque ($27,000) and in that he walked away with that much sought-after accolade, the modern poet’s wreath, which he was accorded when his poem “Jerusalem” was immortalized with a cell-phone ring-tone. Nevertheless, the mini-scandal drew attention to the deep seated divisions between local and foreign Arabs. Palestinians and other Arabs constitute a second tier to privileged Emaratis.
the deep-seated ambivalence the Arab world displays when the ‘word’ intermingles with Islam’s current conservatism. Poetry is often dubbed sihr halal, “legal magic,” which, aside from the peculiar phrasing—one that would be unthinkable in other contexts as the average Arab has an understanding of magic not too dissimilar from that of Salem’s witch-hunters circa1692—points to a marked difference between East and West.Yet
Mahmoud Darwish, Nizar Qabbani and Adonis, that perennial Nobel contender, were and have been known to fill stadiums with record audiences.What Naffis doesn't add is that all three poets have also been thorns in the side of governments as well as popular figures. When state-sanctioned, can poetry continue to be the Arab world's rock and roll?
Egyptians who are neither rich nor middle class, but somewhere in the vast space beneath, what we alternately call lower-middle class, lower class, underclass, the marginalized, or the horrid “simple folk” (البسطاء).But, as she goes on to elucidate, Fadl has made his career out of peddling stereotypes of these ordinary Egyptians in films and TV -- and he does so in many of the essays. As Baheyya avers, this seems a shame because -- from her account, at least -- the book appears to open up a view of Egypt's proletariat (to use a word coined by another great essayist), at once traditional and modernising, that translations of Alaa al-Aswany's novels have only begun to broach for non-Arabic readers.
Autobiography is my least favourite literary genre, too easily prone to posturing and self-exoneration, or else heavy woe-is-me tales about the author’s suffering at the hands of a cruel world. Life is already too full of braggarts and whiners to have to be subjected to them in booksbut her reviews suggest that -- above and beyond the pitiful rate of fiction in translation (see ThreePercenter Chad Post's most recent round-up and sharp analysis of US stats at Publishing Perspectives -- we're missing out if memoirs, essays and autobiographies aren't crossing languages and cultures as well.