Summer 2008 Reading List

For the Summer 2008 we suggested the following short story collections. A great way to get to know authors and a range of stories from across the region, our recommendations include works by Yusuf Idris and Mohammed El-Bisatie of Egypt, Mohammed Al-Murr of the UAE, Hanan al-Shaykh of Lebanon, Ghassan Kanafani of Palestine, and Tayeb Salih of the Sudan.

Continue reading

Absent (Ghayeb) by Betool Khedairi

On June 2nd we discussed Absent (Ghayeb) by Betool Khedairi.

In Absent, the Iraqi-Scot novelist Khedairi (who also wrote A Sky So Close) tells the story of Dalal, a young girl growing up in a crowded Baghdad apartment complex during the sanctions imposed on Iraq following the Gulf War. Orphaned as a baby, she is raised by her self-absorbed aunt & uncle, and lives under a cloud of collective political anxiety. As she grows up Dalal works several jobs and attends classes, introducing us along the way to a cast of kooky neighbors and the ever present threat of a Baath government informant. The book flows between childhood and adolescence in a dreamy, yet somewhat jarring way to present a lucid and insightful picture of Iraq in the late 1990s. English & Arabic copies available at the gallery.

For a discussion from the author see: A Reflection on Absent by Betool Khedairi: What’s In A Name?

Themes discussed in Absent (Ghayeb) by Betool Khedairi are included below:

Continue reading