Welcome to Kutub

Unfortunately after nearly five years, The Third Line can no longer host Kutub’s monthly meetings. We hope that you will continue reading and exploring the world of Arab literature. We thank you for your enthusiasm, shared stories and conversations.  It was a pleasure to get to know you and join in so many discussions together.

For our Arabic readers, we recommend IQRA’A, which gathers monthly at The Pavilion Downtown Dubai (www.pavilion.ae).

Please note that the Kutub blog about Arab Literature may continue in an independent capacity.

For more information? Email: kutub @ thethirdline . com

About Kutub

Kutub was a literary circle that reads works by Middle Eastern authors published in both Arabic and English. It was originally founded by The Third Line, an art gallery in Dubai, UAE that represents contemporary Middle Eastern artists.

Kutub formed in April 2006 out of a concern that there is a lack of support for Middle Eastern authors. The literature coming out of the region is fresh and diverse, but it is also beset with difficulties and a lack of sustained support. One key difficulty is a limited amount of translation of Arabic authors into English.

Kutub sought to support Middle Eastern Literature and to challenge the local readership (both English and Arabic speakers) to consider a broad range of Middle Eastern writers as well as to hold critical cross-cultural conversations that help bring together diverse thought and stir challenging conversation. We read fiction that informs and challenges as well as entertains, including classics as well as modern works by new authors.  Our readers ranged from the academic to the culturally interested – and everyone brings a sharp and open mind for conversation.

Texts were chosen on the following criteria:

  • that they’re fiction, published in both English and Arabic
  • that they’re by authors representative of the Middle Eastern region
  • crucially, that they are interesting, entertaining, enlightening and thus conducive to lively banter that crosses cultural boundaries and builds bridges

15 comments on “Welcome to Kutub

  1. great stuff. well done.

  2. Etidal Osman says:

    Bright idea. I think reading into literature and cross cultural conversation are some of the best ways to enhance understanding between people belonging to different cultures.

  3. JohnMcCain says:

    Great site. Keep doing.

  4. كونياك says:

    عال والله، بس ليه مانكتبش بالعربي بقى؟
    يللا صحة وعافية

    • readkutub says:

      We would love to write everything in both English and Arabic but for the moment are settling on English since – until all of our English readers catch up with our bilingual Arabic readers – it is the best way for us to reach the widest group of readers. If you have suggestions of comparable sites or resources in Arabic, please do forward them along so we can post them for everyone to read. Thanks!

  5. Why you don’t mention the great Iraqi writer Mahmoud Saeed? He is one of the best writers in the world. He has written more than twenty novels and short story collections, and hundreds of articles. He started writing short stories at an early age. He wrote an award-winning short story in the Newspaper “Fatal Iraq, Newspaper” in 1956. He issued a collection of short stories, “Port Saeed and other stories” in 1957. In 1963, the coup of the government destroyed his two novels, The Old Case and The Strike, which he deposited in Iraqi Union Guild.

    The authorities prevented his novel Rhythm and Obsession from being published in 1968, and banned his novel Rue Ben Barka, in 1970. Rue Ben Barka was published fifteen years later in Egypt, Jordan, and Beirut in 1997. Authorities banned the publication of any book written by him from 1963 to 2008. His most important novels after Rue Ben Baraka are The Girls of Jacob, The World Through the Angel’s Eyes, I am the One Who Saw, and Trilogy of Chicago. His novel I am the One Who Saw was translated by Dr. Ahmad Sadri, a professor at Lake Forest University, and published by Dar Al-Saqi in London under the title of Saddam City. It was then translated and published in Italian language with the same title. This novel was considered one of the best 56 novels in the world by the website Library Thing in New York.

    • readkutub says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. We’ve heard great things about Saddam City and will be considering this (and/or other books by Saeed) for future Kutub reads.

  6. Lina says:

    Assalamu Aleikum …

    I need Gibran’s book “The New And Marvellous” in English .. I’ve been searching to find it here but it doesn’t work !

    • readkutub says:

      It is a little tricky to find a stand alone copy of al-Bada’i’ waal-Tara’if (The New and the Marvellous,1923), so we recommend you check out collected volumes of all of his work. We recommend The Collected Works (as published in Knopf’s Everyman’s Library), which is a 800 page hardcover, first published in 2007 — ISBN-10: 9780307267078

  7. Great information. Thanks a lot for this.

  8. Merrill Gay says:

    Do you have any suggestions of where I could find Arabic children’s stories printed in both Arabic and English. I live in New Britain, CT (USA) and we have a rapidly growing Arabic speaking population (mostly from Yemen). The children are learning English in school but speak Arabic at home. I would love to find some stories that their parents can read to them in Arabic that the children can also learn to read in English.

    • readkutub says:

      Hi Merrill,
      I see you’ve also asked this question to one of our favorite blogs for information on Arabic Literature, but for others who have the same question, please check out the response here

      Otter options i would offer that are widely available everywhere (ie via Amazon) are as follows:
      * Animal Colors (Arabic/English) by Brian Wildsmith ISBN-10: 1595721681
      * Geemo and the Missing Egg by Alaa Shalaby ISBN-10: 0981582702
      * Elmer’s Day by David McKee ISBN-10: 1840593989 (Note many of the Elmer’s series are translated and printed bilingually)
      * Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Arabic and English by Annie Kubler ISBN-10: 1844441458
      * Floppy – Bilingual edition by Guido Van Genechten ASIN: B001HGL316
      * Mamy Wata and the Monster (Arabic-English) by Veronique Tadjo ISBN-10: 1840592648
      * Lucky Grain of Corn (Arabic-English) by Veronique Tadjo ISBN-10: 1840592753

      For older readers we would recommend: Modern Arabic Short Stories: A Bilingual Reader by Ronak Husni and Daniel L. Newman

      Good luck!!

  9. sazzad hossain zahid says:

    EXCELLENT! i got most of my answers from here…….i am working hard to include literature of arab world as one of the courses in my university……i am an asst. professor in english literature, doing my phd on AIME CESAIRE….

    from the idea of kutub, i am looking forward to include literature from arab world in our study cirle too.

    pray for me.

  10. Dears:
    I am Mahmoud Saeed. Thank you very much for you chosing to discuss my book: أنا الذي رأى : I am the one who saw (Saddam City). I offer any assistance I can to help your discussion. I also wanted to let you know that Syracuse University in New York will publish my novel: The World Through the Eyes of Angels into English in autumn 2011. I appreciate your efforts to introduce our writing to western readers. There is always a need for more support and I am looking for Arabic/English translators for some of my other novels — recommendations are welcome.
    Thank you very much again
    Mahmoud Saeed

    • readkutub says:

      Dear Mohmoud Saeed,
      We appreciate your email and support for the Kutub discussion of your book أنا الذي رأى : I am the one who saw (Saddam City). We are looking forward to reading the book and would enjoy a discussion with you if this is possible electronically in the lead up to / following the focus on the book. And while we wish we had the resources to invite you here ourselves, please know that if you happen to be in Dubai ever, we would love to host an author’s discussion. In the meantime, congratulations on the translation of The World Through the Eyes of Angels. We’ll make sure this is on our list for future books to read!! I hope that more of your work finds translation so the circle of readers can grow.
      All the best,
      Katrina for Kutub

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