Their literature is already a subject for university study and although we were wary about using such a label of “hyphenated” identification, the increasingly significant contribution to American and world literature being made by the growing numbers of Arab American authors meant it was high time to focus on their work.
In this issue – rich new works that are global in impact and offer fresh, sensitive and astute perspectives on the human condition in today’s difficult world. Literature expresses a country’s soul, but the writings of these Arab American authors express both a past and a future world – not one country. Theirs are voices for the 21st century, putting their stamp on multi-heritage, embracing head-on apparent cultural conundrums, voices both irreverent and responsible, deconstructing and satirising the ironies of prejudice.
Banipal 38 also celebrates the flourishing modernist poetry movement in the United Arab Emirates, with works by four of the most important voices on the UAE poetry scene, Ahmed Rashid Thani, Nujoom Al-Ghanem, Khalid Albudoor and Khulood Al Mu’alla, the latter three of whom held the first UK poetry readings of Emirati modernist poetry at the 2010 Ledbury Poetry Festival and at London’s South Bank Centre.
Plus two of the most talented young Arab authors today: Youssef Rakha from Cairo takes readers on a trip to the Rafah border with Gaza; Hassan Abdulrazzak, author of the successful play Baghdad Wedding, with a hilariously intriguing monologue about the Israeli Wall.
Plus 27 pages of book reviews and a six-page photo-report of the recent RAWI conference.