August starts with a new issue of Banipal, designed especially for Summer reading, and including many thought-provoking fiction from Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq and Egypt. Rasheed el-Anany pays tribute to the late Alfred Farag (1929-2005), the outstanding and distinguished playwright who dominated Egyptian theatre in the second half of the 20th century, while Saadi Youssef pays tribute to his fellow countryman the novelist Mahdi Issa al-Saqr (1930-2006).
The issue kicks off with a new story by novelist and short story writer Jamal Mahjoub writing in English, which takes the reader into the deep shadows of memory.
Next, a chapter from Hassan Nasr’s Return to Dar al-Basha (the novel will be published by Syracuse later this year). In view of the devastating current events in Lebanon, the excerpt “Earthquake Nightmare” is particularly chilling, recounting the experience of the hero Murtada when his house collapses on top of him.
Unusually for Banipal, only two poets in this issue – Siham Bouhlal, writing in French lilting love poems, and Girgis Shukry with down-to-earth images and tales to tell.
The regular Literary Infuences feature is provided by the late renowned and respected Jordanian writer Ghalib Halasa from a collection of his articles on writing.
The first feature is Novels by Six Iraqi authors. The novels range from works in progress to ones with great reputations and about to be published in translation, all very different but all opening up onto vivid and often painful episodes of life in Iraq – from Saadi Yousef, Mohammed Khudayyir, Lutfiya Dulaimi, Fadhil al-Azzawi, Kadhim al-Hallaq and Inaam Kachachi.
The second feature continues the New Writing in Egypt, begun in Banipal No 25, with works by five young authors: an chapter from Yasser Abdel Latif’s The Law of Inheritance which won the inaugural Sawaris Prise in December 2005, poems by Girgis Shukry, four tales by Mustafa Zikri, chapters from Hamdy el-Gazzar’s novel Sehrun Aswad [Black Magic], and a short story written in English directly by Youssef Rakha.
The Travelling Tale is by Ali Mosbah, from his novel Mudun wa Wujooh [Cities and Faces], which won the Ibn Battuta Prize for Travel Writing in 2004. Interview with An Editor is with Michael Beard and Adnan Haydar of Syracuse Press, who are editors of the press’s Middle East Literature in Translation series.
In addition to book reviews, Banipal No 26 includes Books in Brief, which will be a regular column which will enable readers to dip into all the books we receive for review.
cover artist: Sattar Kawoosh
EDITORIAL Four Arab authors touring in Britain
Jamal Mahjoub – A short story In the Long Shadows
Hassan Nassr – “Earthquake Nightmare” A chapter from the novel Return to Dar al-Basha
Siham Bouhlal – Three Poems
Ghalib Halasa We are the Generation without Teachers
NOVELS BY SIX IRAQI AUTHORS
Saadi Youssef – “Fadhil al-Marzoog” An excerpt from Triangle of the Circle
Mohammad Khudayyir – “First Exploration” An excerpt from Basrayatha
Saadi Youssef – TRIBUTE to Mahdi Issa al-Saqr
Lutfiyya Dulaimi – An excerpt from Hayat’s Garden
Fadhil al-Azzawi – Burhan Abdullah’s Secret Chest An excerpt from The Last of the Angels
Kadhim al-Hallaq – An excerpt from My One-Eyed Father and his Six Wives
Inaam Kachachi – A chapter from Streams of Hearts
NEW WRITING IN EGYPT continued
Yasser Abdel Latif – A chapter from The Law of Inheritance
Girgis Shukry – Four Poems
Mustafa Zikri – Four Tales
Hamdy el-Gazzar – Chapters from the novel Black Magic
Youssef Rakha – A short story Dead Man’s Town
A TRAVELLNG TALE
Ali Mosbah – Istanbul Diary
INTERVIEW WITH AN EDITOR
Michel Beard and Adnan Haydar, Editors, Middle East Literature in Translation Series, Syracuse University Press
Susannah Tarbush In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
Zuzana Kratka Le roman arabe by Kadhim Jihad Hassan
Margaret Obank Burning in the Past Tense by Suhail Shadoud
Hussain al-Mozany Sophia by Mohammad Hassan Alwan
BOOKS IN BRIEF
Contributors and Translators