Friday Finds: ‘Bahaa and Shareef Escape to New York,’ from Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s ‘All That Rot’

Also on ArabLit:
Translating ‘Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge’: ‘Evil, Banal, and Kind of Understandable’
‘Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge’ and Crafting 9/11 Supporters That Aren’t   Caricatures
Friday Finds: ‘Embrace on Brooklyn   Bridge’
From Mada Masr:
‘Exit Door’: A passage between revolution fiction and reality
All That Rubbish: Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s second brutal revolution novel is a triumph


Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…‹ Nihad Sirees’s ‘States of Passion,’ Sherko Bekas’s ‘Butterfly Valley’ Wins PEN Translates Awards on ‘Increasingly Adventurous’ ListCategories: Egypt Bahaa takes Shareef by the shoulders and, laughing, says he has to stop playing leading man and try to see things from someone else’s point of view. That’ll be painful but he’ll live. The crisis started the day after Mother’s Day, when the family celebrated Shareef’s mother’s sixtieth birthday. He tells Shareef he’s looking at the situation through his own eyes, not from the perspective of his lover. Bahaa objects and tries to make Shareef understand that it’ll be suicide and that it’s not just about him but about Bahaa too, their families, friends, and a whole society with all its cultural and historical garbage piled up through the ages. She tells Shareef that she’s got a bride for him. Bahaa looks at him for a long time—he knows Shareef’s serious since he constantly brings it up—but this time, from his tone of voice and the look on his face, he senses something’s different. Shareef tells Bahaa he can’t keep living in the closet and he needs them to come out once and for all. He’ll propose to her and they’ll get married after he graduates, she says. The excerpt opens:
Shareef can’t believe how much he loves Bahaa and how little he cares about the consequences. The November issue of   Words Without Borders   boasts an excerpt from Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s   كل هذا الهراء   [Kol Haza al-Haraa],   translated by Jonathan Smolin:
The novel, published in 2017, should be one of the 124 novels in the running for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction, as Fishere gets a free pass in after being longlisted for his Intensive Care   (2009) and   shortlisted for his   Embrace at Brooklyn Bridge (2012). This love was maybe his last chance to get a good grip on his emotional security and self-confidence. But to do that, Shareef knew he had to do something else—he had to come out of the closet. His subsequent novel,   Exit Door,   was expected on the 2013 longlist, but was, for whatever reason, not there. As far as I know, the rights to   Kol Haza al-Haraa (or   All That Rot   in my fickle translation) are still available. The problem was that Bahaa wanted to keep their relationship secret, something that Shareef grumbled about constantly. And, over time, Shareef’s grumblings turned into rejection, then rebellion and, finally, crisis. He defends himself and his idea passionately, not leaving any room for argument. But Shareef’s not listening. The compelling   Embrace at Brooklyn Bridge   appeared earlier this year, in John Peate’s clear translation, and Hoopoe Fiction announced they will be publishing a translation of   Exit Door. Bahaa understands his choices: either give in to Shareef and head off on this potentially dangerous adventure or back out calmly then and there. Keep reading at   Words Without Borders. And Shareef will eventually understand why he couldn’t go along with it. But Shareef’s determined. And Bahaa keeps objecting.