Twin sisters Randa and Lamis live in the besieged Gaza Strip. Inseparable to the point that even their mother cannot tell them apart, they grow up surrounded by the random carnage that characterizes life under occupation. Randa, who wants to be a journalist, writes to record the devastation around her, taking pictures of martyred children. Meanwhile, their beloved neighbor Amna quietly converses with all those she has lost, as she plans the wedding of Lamis and her son Saleh. With their menfolk almost entirely absent, it is the women who take center stage in this poignant novel of resilience, determination, and living against the odds.
Translated byNancy Roberts
12 October 2017
For sale worldwide
Ibrahim Nasrallah was born to Palestinian parents in Jordan in 1954, and grew up in a refugee camp there. After working as a teacher and a journalist, in 1996 he became vice-president of Darat al-Funun, Jordan’s most prominent art and cultural center. He has written fifteen collections of poetry and eleven novels as well as works of literary criticism. He is also a painter and photographer.
To read an article by Nasrallah entitled 'Writing Palestinian Historical Fiction' (December 22, 2012, Culture+Conflict), click here.
Portrait of a City
Mohammed Khudayyir Translated by William M. Hutchins
Portrait of a CityMohammed Khudayyir
Translated byWilliam M. Hutchins
Basrayatha is a literary tribute by author Mohammed Khudayyir to the city of his birth, Basra, on the Shatt al-Arab waterway in southern Iraq. Just as a city’s inhabitants differ from outsiders through their knowledge of its streets as well as its stories, so Khudayyir distinguishes between the real city of Basra and Basrayatha, the imagined city he has created through stories, experiences, and folklore. By turns a memoir, a travelogue, a love letter, and a meditation, Basrayatha summons up images of a city long gone. In loving detail, Khudayyir recounts his discovery of his city as a child, as well as past communal banquets, the public baths, the delights of the Muslim day of rest, the city’s flea markets and those who frequent them, a country bumpkin’s big day in the city, Hollywood films at the local cinema, daily life during the Iran–Iraq War, and the canals and rivers around Basra. Above all, however, the book illuminates the role of the storyteller in creating the cities we inhabit. Evoking the literary modernism of authors like Calvino and Borges, and tinged with nostalgia for a city now disappeared, Basrayatha is a masterful tribute to the power of memory and imagination....read more
10 b/w photographs
A Dog with No Tail
Hamdi Abu Golayyel Translated by Robin Moger
Translated byRobin Moger
In a world with no meaning, meaning is an act . . . This is a story about building things up and knocking them down. Here are the campfire tales of Egypt’s dispossessed and disillusioned, the anti-Arabian Nights. Our narrator, a rural immigrant from the Bedouin villages of the Fayoum, an aspiring novelist and construction laborer of the lowest order, leads us down a fractured path of reminiscence in his quest for purpose and identity in a world where the old orders and traditions are powerless to help. Bawdy and wistful, tragicomic and bitter, his stories loop and repeat, crackling with the frictive energy of colliding worlds and linguistic registers. These are the tales of Cairo’s new Bedouin, men not settled by the state but permanently uprooted by it. Like their lives, their stories are dislocated and unplotted, mapping out their quest for meaning in the very act of placing brick on brick and word on word....read more
30 December 2015
Birds of Amber
Ibrahim Abdel Meguid Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab
Translated byFarouk Abdel Wahab
During the 1956 Suez War—or the Tripartite Aggression, as it is known in Egypt—life in Alexandria goes on. The railroad workers and their families live in the low-income housing of el-Masakin, along the Mahmudiya Canal, but some of them take us on forays into the other, cosmopolitan Alexandria, whose European denizens, mainly Greeks, Italians, and Jews are departing in droves. This spellbinding novel teems with memorable characters, not a few of whom are themselves storytellers: a budding novelist writing about el-Masakin and its eccentric denizens and about his own improbable love affair with a 12-year-old girl; a spice merchant dreaming of the bygone glory of his ancestors and their trade along the spice road, beginning on the Malabar Coast; a train guard who is a teller of very tall tales; and a would-be filmmaker trying to make a film showing what happened in Port Said during the war. Then there is the cinema aficionado who plays Tarzan in real life along the Mahmudiya Canal; the young boy who leads a group of assorted crazies every afternoon to see ‘God’ at sunset; the singing nurse whose only dream is to perform on the radio; and Arabi, the young man who is in love with all things European, but especially with his employer, Katina the widowed Greek dressmaker. As in his earlier novel, No One Sleeps in Alexandria, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid here combines historical fact with fiction, and the mundane with the fantastical, to weave an engrossing, multilayered story of stories....read more
Alaa Al Aswany Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab
Translated byFarouk Abdel Wahab
Sex, money, and politics are the driving forces of society in bestselling novel from Alaa Al Aswany. A medley of Egyptian and American lives collides on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center in a post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound. This tightly plotted page-turner is set far from the downtown Cairo of Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, but is no less unflinching an examination of contemporary Egyptian lives....read more