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[5 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 31 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 | 18 views]
Khaled Khalifa: “Living in a void: Life in Damascus after the exodus”

This piece is taken from Refugees Worldwide, an anthology of writing commissioned as part of a project run by the International Literature Festival Berlin. Published in The Guardian on August 22, 2017
My sister, whom I haven’t seen for more than two years, told me she was going to cross the sea in a rubber dinghy. She hung up, not wanting to hear what I thought. She merely said something profound and sentimental and entrusted her three children to my care in the event that she drowned. A few minutes later …

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[11 Jan 2017 | No Comment | 42 views]
Barnes and Nobel recommends Khalifa’s “magnificent No knives in the kitchens of this city”

 
By David Ulin, for Barnes and nobels, published January 9, 2017
Why do we read fiction? There are as many answers to that question, I suppose, as there are readers, but for me, one of the primary reasons is empathy. Whatever else it bestows, fiction opens up the inner life, collapsing the distance between us and its narrators, its characters, connecting us at the level of the heart. To read a novel is to know someone else on the most intimate level, to sit with them, to grieve with them, to …

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[26 Sep 2016 | No Comment | 97 views]
The Guardian about Khalifa’s No knives: “A pleasure to read… the writing is superb”

By Robin Yassin-Kassab, The Guardian, September 24, 2016
Were Syrians wise to revolt? Aren’t they worse off now? Such questions misapprehend the situation. Syrians didn’t decide out of the blue to destroy a properly functioning state. The state had been destroying them, and itself, for decades. In No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, Khaled Khalifa, poet, screenwriter and Syria’s most celebrated contemporary novelist, chronicles this long political, social and cultural collapse, the “incubator of contemporary demons”.

The story stretches back to the first world war and forward to the American …

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[21 Apr 2016 | No Comment | 83 views]
Sinan Antoon writes in The Guardian – About the Southwest airlines incident, and speaking Arabic

Sinan Antoon wrote this piece for The Guardian, April 19th, 2016
There was a time when one could speak Arabic on a flight in the United States, or even read a book written in that language, without hesitation or the fear of suffering humiliating consequences. That time is long gone. Many colleagues and friends confess that they try to avoid carrying Arabic or Persian books on flights in order not to invite suspicious looks.

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[6 Apr 2016 | No Comment | 92 views]
Writing about a country disintegrating – Sinan Antoon

By Farid Farid, for The Guardian, March 2015
“How do you write about a country that is disintegrating?” says Sinan Antoon, on the line from his office at New York University. His words have taken on a more affective valency in recent days, as the notorious militants from Islamic State (Isis) released footage showing the graphic destruction of Assyrian and Akkadian artefacts in Mosul’s central museum.