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Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East

Published by Comma Press

ISBN: 9781905583201

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‘Madinah’ – the Arabic word for ‘city’ – may conjure labyrinthine streets and the hustle and bustle of the souq in Westerners’ minds, but for the inhabitants of the Middle East it is a much more mercurial thing, and one that’s changing today faster than ever.

Here – in ten urban stories set across the region – the city reveals itself through a vibrant array of characters: from the celebrated author collecting an award in the city that exiled him decades before, to the forlorn lover waiting at a rendezvous as government officials raid nearby shops, confiscating ‘wanton’ Valentine’s Day roses.

Whilst engineers race to complete another ‘world’s tallest building’ in Dubai, and American helicopters patrol the Martyrs Bridge in Baghdad, we realise it is the people, and not the landmarks, that define these places; like the language student in Beirut who tries to make a joke of being ‘war-broken’ to her friends, or the Israeli General who invites guests to his office to watch promo videos for the tank that will ‘win the next war’ whilst eating biscuits and reciting poetry.

For all we think we know of the conflict and exoticism of the region, nothing opens more doors to what we don’t than its writing. Here, ten short stories by new and established writers have been selected and translated in English for the first time, to open just such a door…

Featuring: Nedim Gursel (Istanbul), Gamal Al-Ghitani (Alexandria), Fadwa Al-Qasem (Dubai), Ala Hlehel (Akka), Hassan Blasim (Baghdad), Yousef Al-Mohaimeed (Riyadh), Elias Farkouh (Amman), Nabil Sulayman (Latakia), Joumana Haddad (Beirut), and Yitzhak Laor (Tel Aviv).

"Isolation, homesickness and sex are themes to be expected in literature about cities. It is human for isolated people to experience places intensely and for the displaced to miss home..."
The Times

"The desert cities bloom with unsustainable desire..."
The Independent

"A sampler of the vibrant writing coming out of the Middle East..."
The Saudi Gazette

"The anthology is perhaps more of an experience exchange, coming down to more than just culture..."
Time Out Dubai
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