Marrakech is a city of narration, and Banipal 48 presents enthralling voices from the “kingdom of the improbable, one where reality is creatively rewritten”, as Juan Goytisolo describes the city in his introduction to Marrakech: Open Secrets, the first text of the feature. We invite readers to partake in many sublime moments of the real and seemingly unreal through the writings of poets and authors from Marrakech: Yassin Adnan and Saad Sarhan, whose recent book Marrakech, Open Secrets, has been translated especially for this issue; the painter novelist Mahi Binebine, who never fails to captivate, and his new novel The Lord will reward you; Abu Youssef Taha brings a couple of black tales with a twist; Rajae Benchemsi writes of Bahia, the henna painter, and describes Marrakech as “a cosmic uterus”; Mohamed Nedali’s fascinating debut novel Prime Cuts: An Apprentice Butcher’s Life & Loves will at last be published in English; Anis Arafai gives readers three alternative short stories while Taha Adnan presents three scenarios on the lure of the East and “the winds of Westernization”.
We invite you enjoy this singular literary celebration of Morocco’s Red City lying at the foot of the Atlas mountains and join us at the launch on 12 November.
Banipal 48 also includes works by two more Moroccan authors, poets making waves – the well-known Mubarak Wassat, and newcomer Karima Nadir, writing about the coastal city of Casablanca.
The Literary Influences essay by Egyptian author Mansoura Ez-Eldin admirably complements Narrating Marrakech. She explains how she was lured by her grandmother’s storytelling to train her imagination “to swim in the trackless spaces of fantasy” and that she searched hard to find books to read “that did not recognize boundaries between reality and the imagination”. A second Egyptian author is Ezzat El-Kamhawi, with an excerpt from his award-winning novel The House of El-Deeb, to be published in translation by AUC Press in December. Also, two Iraqi novelists – Duna Ghali, settled in Denmark and writing in Arabic, in this excerpt, set in Baghdad 2006, of a family that becomes unhinged, disintegrating through being victims of war trauma, and Pius Alibek from Barcelona, writing in Catalan, this excerpt from his novel Nomad Roots recalling an Iraqi soldier’s struggle to exist in the southern desert.
We are proud to collaborate with the Berlin International Literature Festival, which for each of its 13 years to date has opened up more and more the essential world of reading for children and young people, and through literary translation, each year gives us more and more “Literature of the World”. In Banipal 48 we run a special feature on this year’s guests, who include J M Coetzee and Salman Rushdie, the latter wowing his audience by saluting literary translation as “a miracle”, as “the most unsung art in literature”, and Arab authors, whose participation is now a regular feature of the festival.