Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dalia Ziada

A Modern Narrative for Muslim Women in the Middle East: Forging a New Future 'serves as proof that positive change on the status of Middle Eastern women – and in particular indigenous change – is not only possible, but within our grasp.' More here .

About the author:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Khalid Al-Khamisi

Khaled Khamisi, a writer, producer and director who wrote Taxi (2007), a collection of 58 short encounters, and Noah's Ark (2009) where there is a portrayal of Egyptians living and working abroad.

More here:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taboos and Arabic Booker

In The State of the Arts in the Middle East's Viewpoints (2009: 11), Allen suggests:  


It is frequently mentioned that the kind of writing reflected in these novels is 'courageous', in that the novelists take on a number of pressing social and political issues and write about them within societies where the existence and application of the concept of 'freedom of expression' is at best ambiguous and subject to a number of generally unfavorable local pressures. It is, of course, this very aspect that initially draws the attention of Western publishers (and their implied readerships) to these works. Whether we are talking about Mustaghanimi's Algeria, al-Aswani's Egypt, or al-Sani's Saudi Arabia and whether the topic is politics, corruption, or sex, these works find a ready readership for what they purport to reveal in fictional form.

I mentioned the above quote to comment on the winners of this year's Arabic Booker.  In their awarded novels, both Saudi Arabian Raja Alem and Moroccan Mohammed Achaari cover sensitive issues in the Arab world. Alem's The Dove's Necklace exposes corruption and exploitation in Mecca, while Achaari's The Arch and the Butterfly is a narration of the effects of terrorism on a Muslim family.   For more, read this:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fawaz Haddad

Syrian novelist, Fawaz Haddad (1988- ) has published ten novels and a collection of short stories. His novel The Unfaithful Translator (2008) was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (2009), and his most recent novel, God's Soldiers, was longlisted for the 2011 Prize. gives further information.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Miral Al-tahawy

Like Al-aswany's Chicago, Brooklyn Heights by Al-tahawy presents the much discussed theme of America's Arab immigrants. Being a writer from a traditional village background, Al-tahawy's writing experience can be inspiring to some, as it is felt in her words from a talk with India's Frontline:

'Once my short stories were published and I began receiving acclaim and complimentary reviews, then translators began visiting me. My mother looked at me as if I was someone important. She thinks I am abnormal, but she also thinks that it is possible to be talented. She wonders why I put her in my books. But that is not the only relationship that I put in my books. It is all my experience. It is a very hard relationship with my mother as she cannot make distance between her dream and me. She cannot understand this image about myself. She affects something… my self-confidence. This in turn affects my relationships. It takes time to discover myself and writing gives me that self-confidence to do so' (Cited in Qualey 12/11/10).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rajaa Al-Sanea

Rajaa al-Sanea is a Saudi writer who became famous due to her bestselling novel Banat al-Riyadh/ Girls of Riyadh (2005&2007). Her book was banned by the KSA government because of the Saudi women's representation. Al-Sanea's official website is: .

Zainab Al-Ghazali (1917 – 2005)

In her book, Return of the Pharaoh, Egyptian author Zainab Al-Ghazali, a leading figure in the Islamic movement in Egypt, relates her experience when she was accused in 1965 of conspiring to kill Jamal Abd al-Nasir, the President of Egypt.

For more information, read this article: .

Radwa Ashour

Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour has two new books: The Woman from Tantoura (2010) and Specters (2010). For a review on both books, read this: .


Radwa Ashour and Ahdaf Souief discuss engaging political issues via literature in a conversation with Githa Hariharan (uploaded on You-Tube on 05/04/2010).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ahdaf Soueif

'Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the bestselling The Map of Love which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1999. Ms Soueif is also a political and cultural commentator. A collection of her essays, Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground, was published in 2004. Her   translation (from Arabic into English) of Mourid Barghouti's I Saw Ramallah also came out in 2004. She lives with her children in London and Cairo .'

Alaa Al-aswany

Egyptian novelist Al-aswany's second novel, Chicago (2007) was 'partly inspired by his stay in the United States as a graduate student during the late 1980s' (Jacuemond, 2008: 245). Including a representation of Egyptians studying abroad, Chicago is worthwhile reading and examining. 

You may read part of the book here:

Al-aswany before the Egyptian Revolution

Al-aswany amid the Egyptian Revolution