Beirut 39: New Writing from the Arab World

Beirut 39: New Writing from the Arab World

4.0 1
by Samuel Shimon
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Beirut 39 presents the best work of young Arab writers from around the world. Selected by a panel of eminent Arab critics, writers and editors, in a competition sponsored by the Hay Festival, these thirty-nine emerging talents are all under the age of thirty-nine, and hail from sixteen different countries-from Morocco to Oman, from Sudan to the Netherlands and

See more details below

Overview

Beirut 39 presents the best work of young Arab writers from around the world. Selected by a panel of eminent Arab critics, writers and editors, in a competition sponsored by the Hay Festival, these thirty-nine emerging talents are all under the age of thirty-nine, and hail from sixteen different countries-from Morocco to Oman, from Sudan to the Netherlands and France. Their fiction and poetry collected here represents the vibrancy and diversity of Arab literature today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This fascinating collection of pieces by 39 young Arab voices from all over the world was put together by the Hay Festival in celebration of Beirut's 2009 selection as World Book Capital. Incorporating stories, poems, and novel excerpts, the enormously varied lineup includes Abdellah Taia's “The Wounded Man,” about a gay university student in Morocco watching a forbidden French film during Ramadan; an excerpt from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmad Saadwi, in which a garbage-diver searches for the perfect nose to complete the “hybrid body” he's assembling; and “Haneef from Glasgow” by Mohammad Hassan, in which a Kashmiri immigrant is viewed through the eyes of his Saudi employers' son. Nazem El Sayed contributes delightfully compact revelations in his “Thirteen Poems”; Randa Jarrar takes a tender look at a Palestinian boy in “The Story of My Building”; Hala Kawtharani explores the Beirut of the 1950s and '60s in “Lebanon/Switzerland? Beirut/Paris?” Because they are so involving and diverse, readers may be frustrated by the entries' brevity, though anyone working on their to-read list will find plenty of ideas. (June)
From the Publisher

“A well-conceived gathering of poems, short stories and other work by 39 Arab writers under the age of 40.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This fascinating collection of pieces by 39 young Arab voices from all over the world was put together by the Hay Festival in celebration of Beirut’s 2009 selection as World Book Capital … anyone working on their to-read list will find plenty of ideas.”—Publishers Weekly

“This collection will appeal to literature lovers and anyone interested in understanding Arab culture.”Library Journal

“The best of these works frequently underscore darker moments, running the gamut from a bombing and a book-burning to schoolyard bullying, but do so without criticizing the characters nor the conditions of the societies which shaped them. Read together, a sense of restlessness—of migrations from village to city, from childhood to adulthood, from living with hesitation to gradually accepting fate—emerges. These stories dig at human fallibilities with imaginative risks."—Karen Rigby, BookBrowse.com 

Kirkus Reviews
A well-conceived gathering of poems, short stories and other work by 39 Arab writers under the age of 40. By editor Shimon's account, these writers are part of a "youthful pan-Arab literary movement" that respects few national boundaries, and that highlights individualism and a yearning for personal freedom. Moreover-and anathema to a purist-these writers "are not afraid to make grammatical errors. Some purposefully don't finish their sentences, others are fond of slang and street talk and dialect." In other words, it's a Pushcart of another kind, though without all the establishment figures. Many of the authors are residents of non-Arab countries, especially France, but most set their themes pointedly in Arab concerns. Among the highlights of the collection is a story by Syrian architect-turned-novelist Rosa Yassin Hassan, who depicts a young Darfurian refugee, a victim of torture, being interviewed for political asylum in Canada, one of many such exiles whose "chances were few, their words for ever [sic] doubted." Palestinian writer Islam Samhan delivers a poem that, as if in response to James Wright's "A Mad Fight Song for William S. Carpenter," recounts the victim of a bombing: "He enjoyed the phosphorus toys / that lit up brightly. / He didn't know / that he burnt up like a butterfly / without a sound." The Dutch-Moroccan writer Abdelkader Benali imagines a young man, presumably much like himself, who has trouble wrapping his brain around the fact that his sister is outdoing him, appreciatively listening to his father mutter, "Nobody wants to marry a woman who's had too much education. Educated women have loud mouths and opinions of their own." And Algerian writer Abderrazak Boukebba delivers an odd allegory that enfolds the world of the exile abroad: "The homeland is not the dust we are born on, but the memory of that dust that accompanies us."Despite a few duds, this is a well-made anthology, of much interest to students of world literature and of the contemporary Arab world.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608192021
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beirut 39


By Samuel Shimon

Bloomsbury USA

Copyright © 2010 Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts Limited
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60819-202-1


Introduction

'Beirut39' is a unique initiative that aims to identify and highlight contemporary literary movements among Arab youth, and to gather young faces and names and provide them with an opportunity to meet, exchange expertise and ideas, and work together in literary workshops.

Young Arab writers have transcended geography and local identity in their creative work, aligning themselves with — and inspired by — global literary currents and movements. It is obvious, for example, that many novelists from all over the Arab world, Mashriq and Maghreb, belong to the same literary current across regional barriers. Through their work, they communicate and bond with each other despite geographical distance, such that one can easily speak of the youthful realist novel, or neo-realist novel, or fantastic novel or post-modern novel that young writers from all the Arab countries have contributed to. The literature of young Arab writers has invaded the Arab literary market, making it difficult to speak of the young Lebanese novel, or the young Egyptian novel, or Syrian, or Saudi, etc. A youthful pan-Arab literary movement currently dominates, bringing together novelists from all the Arab countries, and aiming to break down regional boundaries. This definition also applies to poetry: there is no longer a youthful Lebanese poetry that is different from a youthful Egyptian poetry, or a Saudi, Iraqi or Palestinian one. Poets are collaborating to establish new styles and a new poetic language, in addition to their unique visions. The internet age has certainly helped them to overcome the obstacles posed by the difficulty of meeting and communicating in person.

What brings together most young Arab writers is their tone of protest, and their rebellion against traditional literary culture. They have announced their disobedience against the ideological bent that exhausted Arabic literature during the 1960s and 1970s. They have also risen above the idea of commitment so prominent a few decades ago, which was imposed by a political-party and communal way of thinking. Instead, they strive towards individualism, focusing on the individual, the human being living and struggling and dreaming and aiming for absolute freedom. Many young writers have declared their disdain for what they describe as contrived, 'proper' language. Often, they aim to express their personal concerns as they see fi t, freely and spontaneously. And it is important that they protest and reject and announce their frustration with language itself, this language that differs between writing and speech. They want to write as they speak, absolutely spontaneously, unbounded by the censorship imposed upon them firstly by the language itself, and then by religious or moral apparatuses.

These writers believe that the new era, the information age, the computer and internet age does not leave them with enough time to decipher the mysteries of grammar and rhetoric. They seek the language of life. These writers are not afraid to make grammatical errors. Some purposefully don't finish their sentences, others are fond of slang and street talk and dialect.

This book contains selections from novels, short stories and poems by 39 young Arab writers, and presents the reader with a panoramic glimpse of Arab youth literature. It aims to engage the reader in a conversation, and to help illuminate this scene.

Abdo Wazen Beirut, February 2010

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Beirut 39 by Samuel Shimon Copyright © 2010 by Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts Limited . Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >