In a recent Al Monitor article, Mona Alami writes about the work of artists from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria who are reacting to ISIL. Alami discusses the work of Lebanese artist Raouf Rifai, and Iraqi artists Nada al-Hasnawi, and Aqeel Khreef and Syrian Kais Salman. Alami writes: All these artists have learned to scrutinize the country’s political and social reality, … Continue reading Arab Artists Reacting to ISIL
Halim Barakat's allegorical novella Sitat Ayam (Six Days, 1961) depicts the struggle of a fictional city (Dayr al-Bahr) under siege. The inhabitants of the city are confronted with an ultimatum to surrender or be wiped out. They choose to defnd the city, and the six days of battles end in the burning of the city. … Continue reading Halim Barakat: Six Days
Ghassan Kanafani's novella, Returning to Haifa (1969), tells the story of Said and Safeyya, who fled their home in Haifa during the 1948 Nakba. In the chaos and violence of their escape, their five-month old son Khaldun is left behind. Twenty years later when the Mandelbaum Gate is opened they return to Haifa, "to see" as … Continue reading Returning to Haifa
Three examples of art and bullets as the leftovers of war in Arab contexts: The Bullet Collection by Patricia Sarrafian Ward Throughout their childhood, Marianna watches Alaine collect the detritus of war—bullets, grenades, shrapnel, a gas mask. These objects, some taken from corpses, line Alaine’s bedroom shelves, a catalog of her retreat into a profound … Continue reading Leftovers of War
"Dunya Mikhail is generally known as a war poet" is the first line of an article I came to circuitously. What is a war poet? I thought. Is it like war photographer, war correspondent? War novelist? Dunya Mikhail is Iraqi and a poet, and she writes about war as it has touched her life. She … Continue reading Dunya Mikhail: A War Poet?
This is a picture of Nizar Qabbani. The title of this post is the title of one of his poems which deals with putting the homeland first. Because this is about literature in crisis, writing in extremis, and putting the immediate needs of the country before fiction and imagination. And in many ways, in his … Continue reading I Must Ask Permission of the Homeland
There is an interview on the Thousand and One Nights with Hanan Al-Shaykh and Marina Warner at Guernica which I missed, somehow, although I followed the launch and tour for Shaykh's translation of the Thousand and One Nights closely. Yes, Scheherazade and Thousand and One Nights provokes eye rolling for most people. Again, once more, forever? … Continue reading A Thousand and One Nights Revisted, Again
In a NYT review of French-Algerian choreographer Rachid Ouramdane's Ordinary Witnesses, the reviewer asked: What has dance got to do with genocide or torture? In Ordinary Witnesses, which incorporates innovative uses of multimedia and video testimonies and moves from interviews with survivors of genocide and torture to dance and contortionist movements, there is an exploration of what … Continue reading What’s Dance Got to Do With Genocide?