Saddam City ( أنا الذي راء ) by Mahmoud Saeed

On Monday, October 3rd we discussed Saddam City  ( أنا الذي راء )  by Mahmoud Saeed, in which Iraqi schoolteacher and novelist Mahmoud Saeed, arrested numerous times by former dictator Saddam Hussein, recalls the harrowing months he spent in prison.  Translated into English by Lake Forest College sociology professor Ahmad Sadri, Saddam City was penned in the early 1980s as a “condemnation of all dictators and all tyrants wherever they are.”
Continue reading

The Locust and the Bird by Hanan Al-Shaykh

On Monday, June 6th we discussed The Locust and the Bird: My Mother’s Story by Hanan Al-Shaykh. A slight departure for Kutub’s specifically fiction repertoire, here Al-Shaykh, a Lebanese journalist and author of six novels (including Story of Zahra), recounts the life story of her mother Kamila. The result falls somewhere between memoir and biography as she recreates her mother’s history and the author’s journalistic talent reveals itself in her ability to get past her own abandonment to paint Kamila as a vivid, willful girl who lived as though she were the heroine of a great film.

Continue reading

Signs of the Times: The Popular Literature of Tahrir

Kutub highly recommends Signs of the Times: the Popular Literature of Tahrir: Protest Signs, Graffiti, and Street Art the April edition of Shahadat, a monthly online series created by ArteEast designed to provide a platform for experimentation and promotion of short form writing on the web. This issue, co-curated by Rayya El Zein & Alex Ortiz, takes as its focus the popular literature of the Egyptian Revolution. Drawing on protest signs, graffiti, and street art in Tahrir to read the culture of resistance particular to the Egyptian Revolution, the curators examine how protesters changed the political narrative through the use of images, memorials, and expressions of daily life.

Continue reading

Cairo by G. Willow Wilson

As we get into the heat of summer, we highly recommend Cairo – a compelling graphic novel by G. Willow Wilson and artist MK Perker from Vertigo Comics. Set against the backdrop of the largest city in the Middle East and Africa, Cairo is a fast-paced modern fable that draws six unlikely characters into the search for a very unusual djinn-friendly hooka.

Continue reading