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[16 Jan 2014 | No Comment | 213 views]
An excerpt from Mostafa Khalifa’s “The shell” featured in Asymptote

Mental writing is a technique developed by the Islamists. One of them would memorize more than ten thousand names, names of prisoners who had entered the desert prison, names of their families, the cities and villages they came from, dates they were arrested, their sentences, their fates…

When I decided to keep these diaries, I tried to train my mind. I transformed it into a cassette tape, on which I recorded everything I saw, and some of what I heard. Now, I am playing back some of what that tape contains.

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[20 Nov 2013 | No Comment | 183 views]
Guernica magazine draws a portrait of Khaled Khalifa

Khaled always entered first and greeted the customers sitting at tables near the door. He bent down, kissed the men, flirted with the women, and strutted to where Nabil, Qasabji’s owner, had cleaned a spot for us. He ordered either a glass of arak or the local Damascene beer, Barada, pulled a cigarette from his pack, lit it, and added to the purplish haze of smoke.

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[1 Nov 2013 | 3 Comments | 648 views]
Mubtada wa khabar, collaborative platform for information on Arab books is online!

I first thought of this project in a random conversation with Nadim Tarazi, a friend who owned my favorite bookshop in Beirut in the 1990s, and now runs “La Maison du livre”, association for book professionals. He was visiting Paris where I then lived. It was the winter of 2006. I had been a literary agent specialized in Arabic literature for two years, and was struggling to find independent information on books. This is where the realization of a need for more information on Arab books, as well as for quality standards, stemmed from.

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[4 Mar 2013 | No Comment | 175 views]
Khalifa’s “In praise of hatred” is on the long list of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

First awarded in 1990 to Orhan Pamuk and translator Victoria Holbrook for The White Castle, the Prize ran until 1995 and was then revived in 2000 with the support of Arts Council England, who continue to fund the award. The 2012 prize was won by Aharon Appelfeld and translator Jeffrey M Green for Blooms of Darkness. Khaled Khalifa’s In Praise of Hatred, banned in Syria, has made the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013.

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[20 Feb 2013 | No Comment | 84 views]
“Thus spoke Che Nawwarah” by Rakha, at The Kenyon Review

“Fear not, gentle spy: I won’t tell you my life story. The important thing is that, like many Egyptians, I’ve spent years pretending to study at a place pretending to be a college that is, in fact, a temple Kafka might have imagined, where priests of social climbing hand out certificates of status to acolytes, granting passage. Totally fucked up. Either you join the mafia of the college-educated or you are cored for life—an apple, yes, to be consumed by the respectable. With the result that standards have been dropping steeply for sixty years, and not just standards of respectability. Like many cyber-activists, who are all dependent on their parents, I attended an expensive private school where I learned my English. Unlike them I’ve always enjoyed reading books in that language, in case you’re wondering how I know things that have nothing to do with either career or country.”

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[6 Dec 2012 | No Comment | 117 views]

When asked about the challenges of selling world translation rights of Arabic fiction, one’s first response is naturally always focused on the potential acquirers. It is a fact that Arabic is not widely read in the international publishing industry, and this indubitably has consequences on the access non-Arab publishers have to Arabic literature