Who’s Afraid of Dead Arab Authors?

"I was asked, once, by someone who translates contemporary Arabic novels into English, to nominate a novel. That’s what pushed people away: her love of fighting and her loud voice. I wasn't the only one asked this question. This led people to avoid the family. The women of the village would say: this floozy sucked all the life out of her husband. “I don’t understand. And his jealous eyes, red like a pair of small burning coals were always teary. It was sharp and forceful. In a recent commentary for Al Araby,   الترجمة باعتبارها استشراقاً,   Jordanian poet and novelist Amjad Nasser writes about translation:
The piece begins with an anecdote, a time when Nasser was asked to suggest a novel to translate, and he suggested the acclaimed novel by Jordanian novelist Ghalib Halasa,   Sultana   (1987). Everything about him was tall and thin. When you talked to him he listened and his eyelids fluttered continuously, so tears would trickle on the sides of his nose. Nasser calls on the Arabic novel — and author — to focus not on the taboos but on storycraft, and certainly on Anglophone and Francophone critic and publisher to do the same. Keep reading on   Jadaliyya. The store was still small the day Yousef died. He would keep listening as he wiped his tears and snotty nose. Lynx Qualey (@arablit) March 5, 2018

As Ali Issa wrote on   Jadaliyya,   to accompany his translated excerpt of the novel,   Halasa   authored seven novels, “two short story collections, and several works of journalism, literary criticism, translation and political analysis. The translator-in-question turned down the project, Nasser said, because its author was deceased. Do we stop translating Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, Yukio Mishima, for instance, because they are dead?”
The reasons may be commercial, Nasser said. His wife was of average height, with a powerful, muscular body. That’s probably why there were all these rumors about her in the village; that she was a randy, insatiable woman. I suggested the novel by the late great Jordanian novelist Ghalib Halasa, SULTANA." https://t.co/JpZfwSI2F6
— M. She had a wide mouth, a big red nose and a round face. But, he argues, they don’t ask authors from Japan or Latin America to be alive. He was born in a Jordanian village near Madaba in 1932 and died in Damascus in 1989. An excerpt from   Sultana:
Yousef, Sultana’s Father, came to the village with his wife and opened up a small store. She was very strong. What was annoying about her was her voice, especially when she got into a fight. He lived in Baghdad, Cairo, Beirut and Damascus and his work is a powerful example of border-crossing engagement and brilliance.” Yet, as Issa adds, “His work has only very rarely been translated. The women would warn their men: stay away from her or she’ll suck the life out of   you   and you’ll be just like Yousef al-Hayik. The ghost of Orientalism lives on, he argues, and when Arabic novels are reviewed in translation, they are looking for sociological and anthropological material, and not the novel’s technical and stylistic innovations. The publisher is investing in the author’s presence — their flesh and bone — so that, when the book is published, the author can attend signing events and conferences. Don’t we translate many dead people into Arabic? Advertisements

Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…‹ Friday Finds: Juan Goytisolo – Tangier, Havana and the Treasonous IntellectualCategories: Jordan Sultana   was Halasa’s second-to-last novel, and Nasser suggests it is the author’s most “Jordanian” work. As strong as her husband was weak. His face with its long wrinkles, his long nose, delicate and always moist. Rather, their works can be alive for them. I remember him being tall and very thin. When he spoke his voice came out nasally, from the throat, like a chicken whining. There were others, from other Arab countries.