17 Literary Gifts for 2017: From Djinn Tales to Humor to Kid Lit to Music

For foodie readers:
Scents and Flavors,   trans-ed. Finally, a few more specialized categories
For the boxing fan:   All the Battles,   by Maan Abu Taleb, tr. This YA novel, shortlisted for the the   2013 Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature (in the Arabic) and for the   2017 Palestine Book   Awards   (in the English), is full of the sorts of questions that animate young people’s lives — and particularly young people growing up in Palestinian villages. Najjar and Lucy Coates. For the poet who loves new music, or the musician who loves great poetry:
Nadah:   Arabic lyrics translated to English by Nariman Youssef. Researchers have turned up three Babylonian clay tablets that served as something similar to modern cookbooks. For the artist and cartoonist:
Apartment in Bab El Louk,   by Donia Maher, art by Ganzeer and Ahmed Nady, tr. Robin Moger
For the poet:   Describing the Past,   by   Ghassan Zaqtan, tr. “Cookbooks are a literary late-bloomer, Charles Perry writes, in his introduction to the thirteenth-century recipe collection Scents and Flavors. Who says a Christmas book can’t be about Ramadan? For young readers:
Code Name: Butterfly,   by Ahlam Bsharat, tr. New collections for everyone:  
The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories,   edited by   Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin. The collection’s best stories—of which there are many—aren’t interested in djinn as a site of the exotic, wish-granting imaginary. Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story,   by Hamid Sulaiman tr.‎ Francesca Barrie. But your bibliophile giftee is more likely to have partaken of these than of   Apartment in Bab El Louk,   by Donia Maher, art by Ganzeer and Ahmed Nady, tr. For tweens and young teens. Yes, everyone should want a copy of Colson Whitehead’s   Underground Railroad   and Hisham Matar’s The Return. Review. Scholars have also found a lone Roman cookbook, compiled in the second century. Who doesn’t like stories about djinn? Elisabeth Jaquette. This is also an Etisalat winner. Youssef. by Hassan Manasrah,   tr. Sam Wilder and   Louder than Hearts,   by Zeina Hashem Beck. My final (conscious) gift-book bias: All children should read translations. This early reader is about waking up the neighbors for breakfast during Ramadan. Instead, they employ djinn in tales that move sideways to explore cruelty or loss, adolescence or injustice. In the words of children’s-book author and poet Naomi Shihab Nye: “Maya Abu-Alhayyat’s haunting, evocative text and Hassan Manasrah’s exquisitely gorgeous art combine to make a book worth holding very close. The gift book is a particular beast:
I will admit to four gift-book biases:
First, I find collections and collaborative works make better gifts than single-author books, much as I find an array of spices giftier than a gigantic tub of one. Review. Iraq + 100,   ed. Marcel Kurpershoek
Also, if you are a long-time reader of ArabLit   consider the holiday gift of supporting this site. Hassan Blasim. Winner of a PEN Translates Award,   this graphic novel has been making waves across Europe. Alif: Includes poetry by Sargon Boulos, also tr. Give it to all your friends, big and little.”   Visit the book’s website. There, you’ll get caught up in Damascus’ dense colours and patterns, as well as its light-hearted, sweet-smelling humour. After that, Perry writes, there is ‘nothing more for the next 800 years.’
“‘Then there was a sudden explosion of cookbooks in Arabic,’ Perry writes. The Jasmine Sneeze,   by Nadine Kaadan. Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…‹ Shahla Ujayli Wins 2017 Al Multaqa Prize With Short-story Collection ‘Bed of the King’s Daughter’Categories: gifts Charles Perry. Review. Third, I am biased toward smaller publishers and lesser-known works. A joy!’   More from Lantana. John Peate
For the Saudi-watcher:   Arabian Satire,   by Hmedan al-Shwe’ir, tr.-ed. Review. Lekhfa: Lyrics from the poetry of Egyptian writer   Mido Zoheir, beautifully translated by Wi’am El Tamami. ‘From the tenth through the thirteenth centuries, Arabic speakers were, so far as we know, the only people in the world writing cookbooks.’   Review. Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic,   edited by Lynn Gaspard,   is a fun gathering of   thirty-some pieces of prose, poetry, and art that range from the funny to the poignant to the absurd, with an emphasis on funny. Elisabeth Jaquette. This collaboratively wild and wonderful portrait of Bab El Louk is animated by the art of popular and celebrated artist Ganzeer and cartoonist-satirist Ahmed Nady. For the disgruntled aid worker:   Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge,   by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, tr. (This doesn’t mean I would turn up my nose at a gigantic tub of holiday zaatar.)
Second, although it isn’t pretty, I am biased in favor of works that were recently published. Hanan Awad. For the youngest readers:
A Blue Pool of Questions,   by   Maya Abu-Alhayyat, illus. Review. Nancy Roberts. Lucy Coates on the book. ArabLit’s quote on the jacket: ‘Take a deep breath of The Jasmine Sneeze and you’ll be transported to one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The Little Green Drum,   by Taghreed Najjar, tr. This collection of short stories by Iraqi authors — some written in English and some translated from Arabic — is set 100 years after the 2003 invasion, in 2103, with ten visions of the world to come.