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Banipal Magazine - Issue 25

Banipal Magazine - Issue 25

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Banipal 25 opens with a tribute to the late poet Mohammed al-Maghut whose death we learnt of as we were going to press. Little known in the West, al-Maghut was almost a household name in the Arab world, the influence of his innovative and lyrical poetic style (in just three collections) on generations of Arab poets since the late 1960s having been phenomenal. We were sad also to announce the death on 14 March 2006 of the pioneering Iraqi author Mahdi Issa al-Saqr, who had remained in Iraq throughout the Saddam era, continuing to write, but secluding his works from both the eyes of the censor and any readers. He died just three weeks after his novel Beit ala Nahr Dijla [House on the Tigris], written in 1992, was published.

Banipal 25 presents works by two prominent Libyan authors – the novelist Ibrahim al-Koni with an excerpt from the intriguing and challenging desert narrative The Seven Veils of Seth, while poet and translator Khaled Mattawa writes about the books and authors that have had an influential impact on his life in the regular column LITERARY INFUENCES, intriguing us with Russell Banks, Thomas Hardy and writing in an adopted language.

The major feature of the issue, 100 pages in length, is on the New Writing in Egypt, and features 19 young fiction writers and poets. Introducing the feature, Marie-Thérèse Abdel-Messih describes how the young generation of authors “capture the dispersed, the elusive and the contingent that constitute the every day”. . . thereby “debunking the heroic self” of previous generations. The angry young cosmopolitan men and women in today’s Egypt are impatient for change and for recognition of the stamp of individuality.

There is a freshness and matter-of-fact vitality in the air from all the authors, who include Hamdy Abowgliel with an excerpt from his novel Thieves in Retirement, the poet Iman Mersal who lives in Canada, dentist-cum-novelist Alaa al-Aswany (who authored the best-selling The Yacoubian Building), Mansoura Ez-Eldin (one of four young Arab authors on the Banipal Live UK tour this August), prize-winning young author Haytham al-Wardany, and Ahmed Alaidy with his novel Being Abbas el Abd, plus works by other young poets and writers, and a TRAVELLING TALE from writer and translator Waiel Ashry in the USA Going to Williamsburg.

Alongside the feature is a tribute translation of the late Mohammed Mustagab’s true account and fictional story of meeting a hired killer, introduced by Banipal’s consulting editor Mona Zaki. Jane Spender, Editor of PEN International, in the regular feature INTERVIEW WITH AN EDITOR, talks about the magazine and how PEN is working for greater connections with the Arab world.


Cover artist: Mai Refky

Tribute to Mohammad al-Maghut (1934-2006)

Ibrahim al-Koni "The Visitor"
Excerpt from the novel Al-Bahth An al-Makan al-Da’i
[The Seven Veils of Seth]
Hartmut Fähndrich on al-Koni The Desert – our Life

Khaled Mattawa The Relation of my Influences

Introduced by Marie-Thérèse Abdel-Messih Debunking the Heroic Self
Hamdy Abowgliel Excerpts from Thieves in Retirement
Iman Mersal Poems
Alaa al-Aswany Two short stories
Mansoura Ez-Eldin Excerpt from Maryam’s Maze
Ibrahim Farghali A short story
Independent Egyptian publisher wins International Award
Fatima Naoot Two Poems
Montasser El-Qaffash Excerpt from the novel To See Now
Zahra Yusri A Poem It’s Night
Nagat Ali Two Poems
Ahmed Alaidy Excerpt from Being Abbas el Abd
Emad Abu Saleh Two poems
Haytham al-Wardany Two short stories
Rana al-Tonsi Poems from A Rose for the Last Days
Safaa Ennagar A short story Amoeba
Tamer Fathy Three Poems
Ashraf Abdelshafy Two short stories
Emad Fouad A Poem
Yasser Abd el-Hafez Excerpt from On the Occasion of Life
Sawiris Fiction Prizes for Egyptian Literature

Waiel Ashry Going to Williamsburg

Mohammed Mustagab (d. 2005)
A story The Hired Killer and a true account Ola the Hit Man
with introduction by Mona Zaki

Jane Spender, PEN International

Peter Clark Memories in Translation by Denys Johnson-Davies
Sophie Richter-Devroe Die Reise des Granadiniers by Rabee Jaber
Tarek al-Ariss Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
Stephen Watts Here and There: a Selection of Poems by Basim Furat
Mona Zaki I Loved You for your Voice by Sélim Nassib
Chawki Bazih Cabaret Su’ad by Mohammed Suwaid
Lulu Norman Le Diamantaire by Yasmine Khlat
Margaret Obank Yasser Arafat Looked at Me and Smiled by Yussef Bazzi