Edited by Denys Johnson-Davies
Although the Arabs of the Middle Ages gave the world one of the great classics of imaginative writing, The Arabian Nights, modern Arabic literature has its beginnings little more than half a century ago. From early experimentations with the novel and the short story in the 1930s and 1940s, through Naguib Mahfouz’s Nobel prize in 1988 and beyond, Arabic fiction writing is now very much alive and very well indeed.
This new anthology of the range of Arabic fiction in English translation, compiled by the man described by Edward Said as “the leading Arabic–English translator of our time,” samples the novels and short stories of seventy nine writers from Morocco to Iraq, from the 1930s to the 2000s.
Denys Johnson-Davies has himself produced more than twenty-five volumes of translation from modern Arabic literature, and has followed the progress of this movement from its earliest days when its foundations were laid down by such writers as Taha Hussein, Tewfik al-Hakim, Yahya Hakki, and others. He was the first to translate the writings of Naguib Mahfouz, and introduced the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih to the world.
The short stories and extracts from novels in this anthology range from the experimental to the masterful, from fantasy to social realism, and give the reader the broadest possible picture of the state of Arabic writing today.
Denys Johnson-Davies was born in Canada and grew up in Sudan and East Africa. Among his recent translations is Yahya Hakki’s The Lamp of Umm Hashim (AUC Press, 2004). He is the author of Memories in Translation: A Life between the Lines of Arabic Literature (AUC Press, 2006).
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