13 Books in Translation: A Literary History of Egypt After 2011

* The Crocodiles, Youssef Rakha, tr. No one dared to stop it. Also: World War Three Illustrated, issues #42 and #43, feature original translations of comix by Egyptian cartoonists Ahmad Nady, Ganzeer, and Magdy El Shafee on Egypt’s mass protests. Rebekkah Maggor and Mohammed Albakry (various, translation 2016 Seagull Books) The ten plays in this collection are set just before, during, and in the wake of the Tahrir Square demonstrations, reflecting and engaging events in Egypt through 2013. * The Queue, Basma Abdelaziz, tr Lissie Jaquette (2013, translation 2016 Melville House Press) This surreal, slow-burn novel is a portrait of citizens facing down an ever-slipperier state that gaslights them at every turn and refuses to acknowledge the most basic facts. / Slaves of gravity and projectiles.” Read excerpts and an interview with Zaher at The Stranger. * Book of Sleep, Haytham ElWardany, tr Robin Moger (2017, translation 2020 Seagull Books) As ElWardany said in a 2018 interview, “What happened on June 30 happened, the defeat came to pass, and it was then that I started to take the subject [of sleep] seriously. ___ Poetry The Tahrir of Poems: Seven Contemporary Egyptian Poets, ed. In it, a centralized authority known as “the Gate” has risen to power in the aftermath of the “Disgraceful Events,” or a failed popular uprising. The author said, in an interview translated by Wright, “The idea for Here Is a Body had been flourishing in my mind over the past few years. Moving, informative, and thought-provoking, the collection gives a portrait of all life from inside an Egyptian prison. The Gate never opens, and life in the queue in front of it grows increasingly more complex. * Otared, Mohamed Rabie, tr Moger (2014, translation 2016 Hoopoe Fiction) This future-set novel is a narrative of luminous, riveting anger at state-sponsored violence and its effects, and was shortlisted both for the Sawiris Prize and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Deeply upsetting (and I mean emotionally affecting, not shocking) in parts (I found some of it hard to read) shocking in parts, but always haunted and terrifying.” Read an excerpt on the Hoopoe Fiction website. * Revolution Is My Name, Mona Prince, tr Samia Mehrez (2012, translation 2014 AUC Press) Mona Prince’s self-published thoughts, feelings, and impressions of the original “18 days” (January 25- Feb 11) that preceded Hosni Mubarak stepping down from power, which she carried around with her and hand-sold. 7, Donia Kamal, tr Nariman Youssef (2012, translation 2018 Hoopoe Fiction) The author said, of her book, that “if there was one concrete motivation for me to write, it was that through everything that had happened since January 2011, with every small or big development, I’d find myself wondering what my father would have done if he were alive. The two story lines eventually come together in a horrifying conclusion that the reader wishes they had the power to stop. Relatively few of the works written in Arabic have been translated to English; of those, nearly all focus on Cairo. Still, these thirteen books (six novels, three works of literary nonfiction, a graphic novel, a poetry collection, a short-story collection, and a collection of playtexts) provide a not-insubstantial literary landscape of contrasting visions and emotions: Novels Cigarette No. Read an excerpt on the Fitzcarraldo website. / The soldiers are magnetized standing up on earth. Ganzeer and Ahmed Nady, tr Elisabeth Jaquette (2014, translation 2018 Darf Books) A prize-winning noir poem of a graphic novel gives us small stories, including protest, through the eyes a recluse in the downtown Cairo neighborhood of Bab El-Louk. Read the introduction to the collection on Academia.Edu. It’s true that the book isn’t about the revolution and its defeat but it is haunted by the political through the discussion of sleep and its attempt to escape the conventional portrayal of sleep as a surrender, a laziness, an anti-activity.” You can read excerpts on Minor Literature[s] ___ Plays Tahrir Tales: Plays from the Egyptian Revolution, ed. Robin Moger (2012, translation 2014 Seven Stories Press) This novel, composed in short prose-poem-like sections, is set against the backdrop of Tahrir Square, as its narrator looks back at its secret poetry group, in a Bolañoesque exploration of poetry, sex, suicide, and the meaning of revolution. No one could even talk frankly about it and accusations arose as a way to deter anyone who tried to highlight the crimes.” Read an excerpt on the Hoopoe Fiction website. Short story collections & anthologies Book of Cairo: A City in Short Fiction, ed. ___ Nonfiction You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, tr collective (2011-2021, translation 2021 Fitzcarraldo) A collection of “living history,” in the words of the editors, that opens in July 2011 and collects essays, tweets, Facebook posts, extemporaneous speeches, and collaborative literary writing by activist and thinker Alaa Abd el-Fattah. 13 Books in Translation: A Literary History of Egypt After 2011 November 24, 2021November 24, 2021 by mlynxqualey Many Egyptian literary works set in or after 2011 were composed in Arabic, English, and other languages, ranging from hastily conceived memoirs to epic poems to plays to surrealist short stories to future-set novels. Maged Zaher (various, translation 2014 Alice Blue) In the introduction, Zaher writes: “Most of these poets participated in the demonstrations and sit-ins in Tahrir against Mubarak, in 2011. ___ Compiled by M Lynx Qualey, with assistance from Twitter. Raph Cormack (various, translation 2019 Comma Press) This collection features stories by Hassan Abdel Mawgoud, Eman Abdelrahim, Nael Eltoukhy, Areej Gamal, Hatem Hafez, Hend Jaʿfar, Nahla Karam, Mohamed Kheir, Ahmed Naji, and Mohamed Salah al-Azab. Read an excerpt on LitHub. Read an excerpt on Words Without Borders. How revolutionary would he have been? Cormack said, in an interview, that when he began assembling this book in 2017, “I didn’t start with the idea of doing a kind of ‘post-Arab Spring Cairo’ book but I felt it made more sense of the stories to frame it in this way. * Slipping, Mohamed Kheir, tr Robin Moger (2018, translation 2021 Two Lines) Many novelists had this musical, magical, elliptical novel on their list of favorites of 2018. The questions haunted me, and I needed to finally sit down and explore them.” Read an excerpt on the Hoopoe website. Read an excerpt on the Penguin Random House website. Together, as explorer and guide, they step into the fragmented, elusive world the Arab Spring left behind.” Read an excerpt of Slipping at LitHub. ___ Graphic novels Apartment in Bab El Louk, Donia Maher, ill. Moger has called it a “quite extraordinary, weird, epic book. * Here is a Body, Basma Abdelaziz, tr Jonathan Wright (2018, translation 2021 Hoopoe Fiction) This terrifying, un-put-downable novel is told in alternating perspectives: that of a street child swept up and trained to work for the state, and that of a woman living at the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square encampment in the lead-up to the Rabaa massacre. But they also had their own aesthetic revolution against the barrenness of the cultural life under Mubarak.” The seven poets are Ibrahim El-Sayed, Malaka Badr, Tamer Fathi, Amira Hanafi, Hermes, Ahmed Nada, and Aya Nabih.  From a poem by Hermes, tr. Read an excerpt on the IB Taurus website. Zaher: “Politicians are also asleep in our military state. Also, I don’t think I found any Revolution-based short stories that I really liked. It might take a few years yet before people really figure out how to turn that period into a great short story.” Listen to a discussion of the anthology with editor Raph Cormack on the Borderless Book Club podcast on Spotify / Google Podcasts / Apple Podcasts and read an interview with editor Raph Cormack on ArabLit. From the publisher’s description: “A struggling journalist named Seif is introduced to a former exile with an encyclopedic knowledge of Egypt’s obscure, magical places. It grew out of an event I had witnessed closely, at least partly, and I felt crushed by its monstrous details. What advice would he have given me? Also: Eternal Nightmares of the Hounded Mind: On ‘Post-Revolutionary Egyptian Dystopias’ On Jadaliyya: Revolution Bookshelf: Blacklist Revolution Bookshelf: Revolution is My Name Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…

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