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.

  • Yusuf Idris: Several collections: Country: Egypt
    The author is considered by many to be a master of Arabic short story writing. Many of his works are in the Egyptian vernacular, are realistic tales of ordinary and poor people. For some time he was a regular writer for the daily newspaper Al-Ahram. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize for literature. One or two of his novels have been translated into English (City of Love and Ashes – AUC), but his most famous collection of short stories The Cheapest Nights
    أرخص ليالى is now out of print. Other collections may be available in Arabic: Isn’t it? أليس كذلك ؟ , Bottom of the city. قاع المدينة , The Hero. البطل , An incident of Honour حادثة شرف , The End of the world آخر الدنيا , The Language of Oh Oh. لغة الآى آى ,The summons. النداهة , A House of Flesh. بيت من لحم , I am Sultan of the law of existence.أنا سلطان قانون الوجود

  • Mohammed Al-Murr: Dubai Tales: English: Motivate Publishing : Arabic: Not available – originally published in newspapers: Country: The Emirates
    Each of these 21 stories delves briefly into the homes and relationships of the people of Dubai, where rampant materialism and hypocrisy, have invaded peaceful domesticity. In “A Study Course” and in “Fear,” newlyweds successfully deceive their spouses with extramarital loves. “A Late Dinner” shows the dissipation of a wife’s irritation at the nightly return of her drunken husband and his untimely demands for meals as she recalls his valuable gifts to her and her own enjoyment of his gossipy anecdotes (from the first edition jacket cover).

  • Mohammed El-Bisatie: A Last Glass of Tea and Other Stories/Daw’ Da ‘if la Yakshuf Shya’an: Country: Egypt: English: AUC: Arabic: Dar Sharkiyyat
    “Highly regarded by critics and fellow writers in Cairo, El-Bisatie is a ‘writer’s writer’-which is to say a writer who makes no concessions to the lazy reader. El-Bisatie stands back from his canvas and sketches his characters and events with a studied detachment. While there is drama in his stories it is never highlighted: the menace lurks almost unseen between the lines.” Denys Johnson Davies in his introduction.

  • Hanan al-Shaykh: I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops/Aknus al-shams an al-sutuh : Country: Lebanon: English: Bloomsbury (UK): Arabic: Dar al-Adab
    In the first of these 17 finely honed stories, a stifled Lebanese wife feigns madness in order to get a divorce from her obtuse but, it turns out, surprisingly resilient and devoted husband. Asked her age, Fatin replies, “The age of madness.” This combination of sangfroid and desperation, truly mad situations and sane protagonists, sets the tone for al-Shaykh’s fiction. Setting her tales in the Middle East, North Africa and London, al-Shaykh uses intellectual lightness to buoy even the most oppressive of situations: insanity, suicide, abandonment and immolation.
  • Ghassan Kanafani: Men in the Sun & Other Palestinian Stories/rijal fi-sh-shams: Country: Palestine: English: Lynne Rienner Publishers (US): Arabic: مؤسسة الأبحاث العربية
    This is an important collection of stories by novelist, journalist, teacher, and Palestinian activist Ghassan Kanafani, the basis of the film The Deceived. In the unsparing clarity of his writing, Kanafani offers the reader a gritty look at the agonized world of Palestine and the adjoining Middle East. Kanafani was killed in a car-bomb explosion in 1972.

  • Tayeb Salih: The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories/ ‘Urs al-Zayn : Country: Sudan : English: Three Continents Press (US): Arabic: دار الجيل للطبع والنشر والتوزيع
    From the author of highly aclaimed Season of Migration to the North this describes the lives of everyday village life in the North of Sudan. Zein is an eccentric simpleton whom everybody loves yet is scared to look at. He lives his life full of laughter, humor and craze, then falls in love with with Ni’ma…

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