The title of Mahmoud Darwish’s memoir of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon deals with the power of language through its direct impact on memory and history, on what is remembered: the capacity that words possess in determining what remains and endures. Throughout the book, Darwish plays with the idea of an exchange with the aggressors, a “blow by blow” of sorts. They have weapons, he has words: “You give me bombs, I give you a text;” “You give me forgetfulness, I give you memory.”
Isabella Hammad’s breathtaking debut novel, The Parisian, is a work of historical fiction that masterfully presents crucial periods of Palestinian history through the life and adventures of Midhat Kamal’s coming of age, from his voyage to France to study medicine to his seemingly dutiful life once he returns home to Nablus, profoundly changed, several years later.
“I Loved You for Your Voice,” by Selim Nassib, is a timeless, exquisite, and underappreciated novel inspired by the life of Oum Kalthoum as recounted by Ahmed Rami, the poet who composed the lyrics of her songs and who loved her in vain.
Alaa Al Aswany’s 2018 novel “The Republic, As If” follows the events of Egypt’s 2011 revolution through the perspectives of both protesters of Mubarak’s regime and citizens set on upholding it.
Algerian author Boualem Sansal explores the perils of Islamic totalitarianism in his dystopian novel “2084,” which was published in France in 2015. For the authoritarian leaders Sansal portrays, religion is not the motivation for maintaining power, but rather a tool to that end.
Meursault and Haroun, the respective narrators of Albert Camus’ 1942 novel, “The Stranger,” and Kamel Daoud’s 2012 novel, “The Meursault Investigation,” are united by their social and political alienation. While Meursault is able to achieve independence from his family and country, the central role of colonialism in Haroun’s life deprives him of this freedom.
Juha, the “wise fool” of Arabic folklore, offers a playful escape from reality, while also communicating societal values.
“That Place Where You Never Notice the Bad Lighting”: The Concept of “Home” in the Poetry of Iman Me...
Egyptian poet Iman Mersal’s “Solitude Exercises” and “The Idea of Houses” both portray narrators whose feelings of unease are projected onto their relationships with their homes; however, the narrators diverge in how they approach these emotions.
An insurmountable grudge between friends stands in for the unresolved trauma of political violence in the story of an expatriate visiting his native Lebanon.
Naguib Mahfouz, one of Egypt’s most celebrated novelists, helped map out a continuous and coherent – albeit fictional – Egyptian identity that would have long-lasting reverberations in the Arab world.