Books We Have Read

These links will take you to more information about the books we have read and their authors. You can also scroll down to read more on each book.

Sitt Marie Rose (الست ماري روز) by Etel Adnan

Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa I

On Monday, September 12th we discussed Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa I: A bilingual reader edited by Peter Clark. This bilingual volume brings together eight pieces by a younger generation of Arab writers from Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. The work was  produced during a 2009 Emirates Foundation International Prize for Arabic Fiction workshop and reflects a range of styles and themes: from Egyptian social realism to a tale from the deserts of Darfur, a grim Tunisian allegory, family drama in Saudi Arabia, and a story about home and exile in Sana’a.

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The Arab Spring – Words without Borders

As we stand with all those in struggle in Syria, Libya and the region, Kutub highly recommends all readers check out Words Without Borders’ series on The Arab Spring.

The Words Without Borders series documents the Arab Spring with literature from the countries of the uprisings. Following the sequence of events, they begin in North Africa with writing from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Tunisia – and continue into Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen.   Continue reading

Year of the Elephant (‘Am al-fil) by Leila Abouzeid

We recommend our readers consider reading Year of the Elephant (‘Am al-fil) by Leila Abouzeid — which was the first work by a Moroccan woman to be translated into English (by Barbara Parmenter in 1989, three years after it was written).  The book’s full title – Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence, and Other Short Stories – sets the stage for readers to discover a novella and eight short stories which serve as an eloquent representation of life in the wake of Morocco’s successful struggle for independence from French occupation.  Continue reading

Cities without Palms (Mudun bila nakhil) by Tarek Etayeb – translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Kutub’s July selection honored the translator Kareem James Abu-Zeid, who was one of the runner-ups of 2010’s Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his work with Cities without Palms (Mudun bila nakhil) by Tarek Etayeb.  Eltayeb’s first novel, Cities without Palms offers an uncompromising depiction of poverty in both the developed and the developing world. With its simple yet elegant style, it tells of a tragic human life punctuated by moments of true joy.

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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.”
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