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[30 Nov 2017 | No Comment | 102 views]
“Ingenious character, and a literary approach on the verge of the unimaginable” – GP, Sweden, reviews Yazbek’s Blue Pen

Yazbek lets the child testify, a review by Mattia Hagberg, for GP, Sweden, October 2017
How do you describe a modern war? How do you put words on the most horrendous? These questions are all over the Syrian author and journalist Samar Yazbek’s novel The Blue Pen.
Trapped in a basement in Damascus, Rima is sitting and writing and drawing. She is a forgotten girl  in Syria’s hell. Nobody knows that she is sitting there waiting to be rescued. 

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[5 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 161 views]
Shubbak interview with Najwa Bin Shatwan – Being a female author in Libya

Interview conducted by Nahla Al Agli for Shubbak festival’s blog, in July 2017.
An ugly shadow side of Libya’s history is that it was a slave market route for centuries under Ottoman rule, way before the Italian occupation and prior to Libya’s declared independence in 1951. Growing up in Libya, children might still hear stories from elders about the black maids who used to work in their household or about distant cousins in Africa who carry their same recognisable surnames.
There would be no elaboration on the reality of the trade that …

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[4 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 67 views]
Reviews of The Shell, English edition: “Highly recommended”

The Shell, by Moustafa Khalifa, is published in English by Interlink, USA (2017):
“From 1982 to 1994, Syrian topographer Khalifa was incarcerated in his country’s infamous Tadmur Military Prison, and his decision to present his experiences as fiction results in a document both haunting and bold.

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[31 Mar 2017 | No Comment | 270 views]
Sinan Antoon’s Ave Maria is out from Hoopoe! A first review by The National – “A novel of rare brilliance”

The National, March 29, 2017
he Baghdad Eucharist is a short read but one that lingers long in the mind due to its characters’ candid testimonies. Antoon entrances with both his lavish set-pieces and tight thumbnail sketches. Maha’s miscarriage, together with Youssef’s doomed love affair with a Muslim girl 20 years his junior, show suffering of a different kind. Antoon also manages to convey Youssef’s anguish at the felling and burning of Baghdad’s date palms – “so that the Americans can see the snipers and the snipers can see them”.

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[28 Mar 2017 | No Comment | 126 views]
Hoda Barakat’s The kingdom of this earth featured in The White Review

Translation by Marilyn Booth.
“Hoda Barakat’s THE KINGDOM OF THIS EARTH turns to the history of Lebanese Maronite Christians, from the Mandate period to shortly before the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in the mid-1970s. This scene, occurring very early in the novel, precedes a tragedy that will mark the family at the centre of the story, whose history of village pre-eminence puts them at the centre of local rivalries around class, land ownership, water rights, and gender politics. The ancestral past remains part of the present, as the children …

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[17 Mar 2017 | No Comment | 108 views]
Lecturer at an American University: Khalifa’s no knives is “the best piece of literature I’ve had the chance to read in the last 6 months”

In her blog lecturer Ashleen Williams explains why she has adopted Khalifa’s book in her class:
This fall I’ll be assigning No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khaled Khalifa for Honors 101 – “Self, Society and Identity.”
This is probably the best piece of literature I’ve had the chance to read in the last 6 or so months, and in my quest to assign my students readings from outside a western perspective, this is the obvious choice.