Middle East/North African Lit discussion

123 views
2012 Feedback and 2013 Plan

Comments (showing 1-38 of 38) (38 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Hi everyone!

Nile Daughter, NG and I would love to hear your thoughts about this past year--what you liked, what you didn't like, what you'd like to see more of, how you felt about the reading period for each stop and how you felt about having two simultaneous projects. Or anything you would like to give us feedback on!

Also, we would like to know if you have thoughts and ideas about next year! It seems early to start talking about next year, but believe me, it's not. ;)

We are anxious to begin planning so we can have another successful reading year in the MENA region.


message 2: by Kate (new)

Kate | 197 comments Hi Marieke,
This is my first year participating and it's been wonderful. Not that I could keep up with everything, and I think I need to know how to be more organized with it. I think I signed up for too many books but I wanted to read them all. I like the mix of fiction and nonfiction 'though I like reading the fiction more. When I read either, I learn more about the histories and cultures of this area.

I have no ideas for next year. You are the experts and I'm on the learning side. I'll just try to keep up.


message 3: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "Hi Marieke,
This is my first year participating and it's been wonderful. Not that I could keep up with everything, and I think I need to know how to be more organized with it. I think I signed up f..."


Thanks so much Kate!

Do you think it's good to have "too many" books or do you think it would be beneficial to have fewer books in the line-up next year?

The three of us are trying to get a sense of what members are thinking so we can tailor the group to meet members' hopes and expectations.

To remind everyone what we have done so far: in 2011 we took a basic tour around the region. We divided MENA into a set of sub-regions and created a cruise stop for each sub-region. We chose two books: one from a featured country and one from any country in the sub-region. We did this by polling the members.

This past year we ran two projects: one was a historical tour around the region and featured both fiction and non-fiction. We also sampled women's literature in various genres.

Do any of you think that was too much? are there areas you want to get more deeply into--a type of literature? a particular geographical region? a particular time in history?


message 4: by Kate (new)

Kate | 197 comments I will have to look at what you did in 2011 with the tour around the regions. Your description of the two years has given me a little more insight into how it is organized. It's not too much for many, I'm sure, I am a very slow and meticulous reader, sometimes taking more than a year with a book that I really love, so I am not going to say that it's too many.

This is like my very own university of Middle Eastern literature, culture and history (this and the blog Arab literature (in English) so I would rather be overwhelmed and not able to keep up than not be exposed to as much.

And I'm still learning so much. I'd like to hear what others think and want to read. At my level, I'd say I'm more at the stage where I cannot suggest, I can only react to the suggestion.


message 5: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "I will have to look at what you did in 2011 with the tour around the regions. Your description of the two years has given me a little more insight into how it is organized. It's not too much for ma..."

Thank you so much, Kate!

I hope more people will share their thoughts here...right now the poll is showing that a geographical tour is the preferred project for next year...i'm curious to know what that would look like to members? We really want to hear your ideas!


message 6: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Thanks Kate for your sweet and very encouraging feedback :D

I echo Marieke again , Should we pick countries to read from or sub regions ? – by the way , are some members interested in reading for specific authors within the region?


message 7: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Historical tour voters are very close to the Geographical tour voters, so at some point we can discuss what can we do about that .

For the Geographical tour

the May be it will be easier if we discuss which countries each of us would like to read from the most that it will not be practical to read from all the countries within the region through one year , and then we try to figure out a plan .

Personally , I want to read about Iran that it needs more focus and we didn't have a chance to , same goes to Morocco . For Sudan I want to learn more how things reached that far , also Lebanon is a very interesting country that we didn't come across until now , from anther side I still want to read from Turkey more , and never stop reading about Egypt .


message 8: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
i am also definitely definitely definitely interested in iran and turkey.

another thing i just remembered, but we haven't discussed here or in the polls really, are minority groups...for example...reading Kurdish history and literature or Greek and/or Armenian experience in Lebanon or Jewish history and literature in the middle east (including Iran and Arab and North African countries)....just thoughts to consider....


message 9: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Marieke wrote: "i am also definitely definitely definitely interested in iran and turkey.

another thing i just remembered, but we haven't discussed here or in the polls really, are minority groups...for example....."


That is a new and a very interesting point Marieke


message 10: by Melanie, Marhaba Language Expertise (new)

Melanie (terrafern) | 427 comments Mod
Hello! For whatever it's worth, I don't think it's necessary to read from certain countries. I personally just want to read good books. I'm listing books below that I've been wanting to read in case there is interest among others (please tell me if I should be listing these somewhere else). More importantly, though, I think this is a wonderful group. And I'll be perfectly happy to just join in on reading books that appeal to me. My two cents.

Melanie

Books that I'd like to read some day...
- Shahnameh - Persian 'Book of Kings' (I have the Penguin edition)
- Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz
- Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
- The Seventh Heaven by Naguib Mahfouz
- anything by Radwa Ashour (Egyptian)
- Scheherezade Goes West by Fatema Mernissi (Moroccan)
- The Poetry of Arab Women by Nathalie Handal
- Weavers of the Songs: Oral Poetry by Women in Israel and the West Bank by Michael Caspi
- I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops by Hanan al-Shaykh
- One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan al-Shaykh
- The Hedgehog by Zakaria Tamer
- Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet by Ulfat Idilbi
- My Grandfather's Tale by Ulfat Idilbi
- Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt by Jurji Zaydan
- Harem Years by Huda Shaarawi


message 11: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 24, 2012 01:18AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Melanie wrote: "Hello! For whatever it's worth, I don't think it's necessary to read from certain countries. I personally just want to read good books. I'm listing books below that I've been wanting to read in cas..."

Thank you so much Melanie for your feedback !:D
we really do appreciate it a lot. It is really very important to us to be aware of what members want from the group.

You have a very interesting list of books (we will add them to the bookshelves) and we will do our best that they would be included in our next reading options according to whatever plan we will decide. in the mean time may I suggest that you post them again in I want to read this book; anyone would like to join me? , if some members join you for any book , it can be read as a group read .
also it seems that you read several books from the region if you have time to share with us the best you read in The best I read from the region so far?

By the way , I am flattered that many of your choices are Egyptian , and- thank you - I didn't know before that Jurji Zaydan has translated books , when we started our historical tour I searched and couldn't reach any for him (I haven't read for him myself but I read about him ) , I think reading about "Tree of Pearls / Shagrat Al dor شجرة الدر " would be great , she ruled Egypt in a very critical time , when history took new shifts , hope this would be a good book .


message 12: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 24, 2012 01:21AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
**The poll indicated that "Geographical tour" is the chosen project, but the number of voters does not reflect a solid base for it as a reliable future project for the group in 2013. So we need a Brainstorming in here.

* Would "List of topics" top read about be a good option?

If we are going to keep the geographical tour idea ; we can cover within each choice (country or sub region ) some related topic (or genres or characters) for it .



* "list of authors" to read for . "

I see Melanie metioned Naguib Mahfouz here a lot , and other members mentioned other authors in multiple threads .

* would reading about the same thing, but different books for each one - be a good idea?

* should books that won prizes or best seller books be highlighted ?


message 13: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
If we do a topic thing during which we each choose our own books to read for a particular topic, one topic could be a particular Prize and year, and then we could each choose book(s) that were nominated on the Long List for that year. Obviously several people could read the same books, but if we have a variety, we can discuss their merits and decide if we agree on which book actually won.


message 14: by Kate (last edited Sep 24, 2012 08:03AM) (new)

Kate | 197 comments Marieke and Nile Daughter, I like your suggestions. I particularly like the idea of being free to choose whatever book suits us about a specific topic and reporting back. We'd end up with these rich bibliographies created by us. Some of us read heavy and some read light (I think I'm in the middle on that) so it would be an excellent way to get a range of books on a certain topic or genre or something. Having at least one of the topics be a prize winner sounds good, too.


message 15: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 24, 2012 11:50PM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
So we can have major umbrella as a geographical zone (sub region or a country) and then some( specific topics /historical periods /characters/ authors / city …etc) derived from it , we can choose a book as a group read or we all read different books are related - "I see this idea appeals to kate so this is a good start "

Some of my thoughts (just thoughts without time line) for planning the tour :

* West Arab countries. (Moritania – Morroco – Algeria – Tunisia – Libya) .

We can discuss (just as examples):

Amazigh culture - history specially relation with Andalus – French / Italian Colonialism - Women issues – Jews – popular authors - politics / Arab spring

* Egypt

Pharaonic history – Islamic history – Coptic literature – Egyptian Jews – British Colonialism - popular authors – women issues - Egyptian revolution .


* Sudan and horn of Africa
(history – modern history/ Sudan and south Sudan – politics/ political Islam – women issues)

* Levant countries
(Crusades - Lebanon war – minorities and identity – women issues- Jerusalem .

* Gulf countries + Iraq +Yemen
(Bedouins oil effect - Yemen Kingdoms - Sunni and Shia – women issues – gulf war )

* Turkey
(Othman empire – Greek, Kurds and Armenian interaction)

* Iran
(Persian history – Islamic history – Iranian revolution – Jews)

* -stan countries.


******


**When we enter each phase we can suggest more items and choose together what we want to read about , what do you think ?


message 16: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 103 comments I've only participated in two reads so far, but both were thought provoking. I personally like having some titles where we are all reading the same thing, because other people understand things differently than I do & it enriches my reading. So I hope that though we may choose different books for a region that there might be 3-4 over the course of the year that we read together.

I also like a mix of fiction & non fiction - the fiction gives me a better flavor of what life is like & gives me something to "hang the history" on, so to speak.


message 17: by Bernadette (last edited Sep 25, 2012 10:25PM) (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Oh, I miss this group! I really need to get an e-reader so I have a better chance of actually getting my hands on the books. I love all you do and will try harder to join the next tour! I do have several Mahfouz books on my shelf that I have not read yet so I would definitely join discussions for those.


message 18: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Thank you Ardene for your feedback .

Bernadette we miss you a lot too !


message 19: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 103 comments Not sure where to put this, I've run across another author to consider for history (non-fiction) in the Middle East, although I think his viewpoint would be controversial - Efraim Karsh,born and raised in Israel. Both Islamic Imperialism (Yale U. Press) & Empires of Sand are available at my public library.

What interests me about these titles is that Karsh downplays the role of the west and argues for the interaction of various regions and groups in the formation of the current political dilemmas.


message 20: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Ardene wrote: "Not sure where to put this, I've run across another author to consider for history (non-fiction) in the Middle East, although I think his viewpoint would be controversial - Efraim Karsh,born and raised in Israel. Both Islamic Imperialism (Yale U. Press) & Empires of Sand are available at my public library.

What interests me about these titles is that Karsh downplays the role of the west and argues for the interaction of various regions and groups in the formation of the current political dilemmas...."


I opened this thread , so we can discuss more in there (Readings in the history of the middle east)

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 21: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 71 comments So, I'm new to this group and I've just barely looked around at everything and I'm still getting used to everything here (I'm also new to goodreads in general). I see lot's of books on the bookshelf and in lists that I already own but have either not read or haven't read in completion (i.e. I read selected chapters either for research papers or as assignments). I'm open to reading pretty much anything from and about the region but my main interest is in history and non-fiction. Since I haven't gotten to completely explore everything here yet it's possible that I'll suggest things you already do but I'm hoping there is built into the tour format books that are non-region specific like Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes or A Concise History of the Middle East. I believe I saw something for Orientalism that seemed open to discussion anytime (which I hope will encourage me to actually finish reading it). I guess I would be interested in having at least 1 non-fiction (preferably history) pick for each region or country but I think the current "cruise" format is fine. Not having participated in any of them so far I can't really make too many comments for improvement, what your doing so far looks great.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe the wrong place to do this, but I just want to introduce myself. I'm Lebanese-American (or Syrian-American: the borders are fluid, and grandpa never was precise), and I found out about your group through another person. I live in New York, and I'm very interested in Arab literature beyond the ultra-mainstream. I work in publishing and even wrote the book jacket copy for THE MAP OF LOVE that everyone's reading now. I'm not big on commenting, but I look forward to the books you all discuss and inadvertently recommend. I've just ordered a copy of LEO AFRICANUS.


message 23: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Cassandra wrote: "So, I'm new to this group and I've just barely looked around at everything and I'm still getting used to everything here (I'm also new to goodreads in general). I see lot's of books on the bookshe..."

Welcome again Cassandra , we appreciate the thoughts you shared with us and we will try to consider them planning our next step .

speaking of the historical books you mentioned , there is a new opened thread in the group Readings in the history of the middle east , it is a place to collect thoughts and recommendations and exchange opinions regarding the region history . we had multiple historical stops this year , some books were not included as group reads ( Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes was one of them)- some members are seeking for more detailed books related to certain historical eras ; so I hope such thread will develop into a good help tool.


message 24: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Erik wrote: "Maybe the wrong place to do this, but I just want to introduce myself. I'm Lebanese-American (or Syrian-American: the borders are fluid, and grandpa never was precise), and I found out about your g..."

Welcome Erik , interesting intro :D and I hope you will like it here . BTW all members including new members can share their thoughts about our next plan with us .


message 25: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 71 comments So I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this but I'd also like to read Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam which is (pretty obviously) about women in the Fatimid Empire. I'd also really like to read Women, Men and Eunuchs: Gender in Byzantium... I think the title is pretty self explanatory. I've already read A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt but I thought it was very interesting and would recommend it if anyone is interested in reading about women as performers in Egypt (although there are some similarities regarding women as performers throughout the region). Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence is another one I've been wanting to read about the coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Andalusian Spain.


message 26: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Oh, the Women, Men and Eunuchs book sounds fascinating!


message 27: by Niledaughter (last edited Oct 10, 2012 02:33AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Cassandra wrote: "So I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this but I'd also like to read Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam which is (pretty obviously) about women in the Fatimid Empire. I'd als..."

I am glad you are sharing your choices with us :), this for sure helps .

I will help you with the group map (maze:D)
I think many of your choices can also fit in Readings in the history of the middle east , or in Book recommendations

You can also open threads for your own in Cruise Salon (Individual reads)


message 28: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 103 comments Cassandra, thanks for sharing these! I'm interested in Women and the Fatimids too.


message 29: by Niledaughter (last edited Nov 28, 2012 11:44PM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Here is the summary of what we are thinking to do in 2013/2014 :

Two projects :
1- Region tour

We will change regions each 3 months in this order :

2013
1- Levant countries
2- West Arab countries
3- Gulf countries +Yemen + (Iraq?)
4- Iran

in 2014

5- Turkey
6- Egypt
7- Sudan
8- (middle Asia)-stan countries

** For each stop we will have a Topic to read about (probably historical) , we can try " (choose your own book)" method .

Also we will have one fiction book or two .

2- literature prizes

As a beginning we will pick a book each 2 months , More details will be introduced discussed soon .

*****
Before moving on , does anyone have any notes / modifications or questions ?


message 30: by Angela (new)

Angela | 47 comments I have read one book about Eunuchs, "Cry to Heaven" by Ann Rice. It is the only book I have ever read by this author. The book is based in Italy, not the M.E. but still an interesting read. I found "Map of Love" the other day at the library for sale, grabbed it fast :). Also have coming "Love and Tragedy" by Amos Oz. I may not be able to track with you all but I am thankful to get good titles from this group.


message 31: by Cassandra (new)

Cassandra | 71 comments Looks fine to me Nile Daughter (although that year long wait on Egypt is just going to torture me ;) j/k). Just to make sure I'm understanding this though there will be a specific topic and we pick different books to read on the topic ourselves and then discuss the topic in the group? Will there be recommended books for people to choose from about the topic then?


message 32: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Cassandra--we will have two or three books per stop. We will have polls for most of them so we are all reading the same thing, but we will also ask members to choose their own book for specific topics. We will have discussion threads to make suggestions and get ideas, so some people will be reading the same book but we won't all be reading the same book. This allows for some flexibility, but also we hope it broadens the discussion. I think I have this right. ND will confirm. :)


message 33: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
Angela ,
Hope you will be able to read with us at some point :)

Marieke , you sure got it right dear :)

Cassandra ,
I wish we can read about Egypt sooner :) it was poll that drove us to this order (Egypt and Turkey have a tie), since the three moderators have a thing for Egypt some way or anther ...turkey came first (to be fair :p ) .

I think by our first stop ; things will take a more organized/solid format, hopefully when several members interact and share with us what they want to read or read about . .


message 34: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2275 comments Mod
We opened a new discussion board where other threads will follow

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_...


message 35: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Emam (goodreadscomruby_emam) I just saw this post about Middle Eastern books and when I get to section on Iran, there is "Persian History", Islam, and a few other topics.

What is less understood about Iran is that they are not all Persians and they have their own stories. There are also books that take history to a higher level, books that are not just about the inglorious past with kings and tyrants in charge, but about the real people and their struggles for survival and their efforts to build a better future...


message 36: by Kat (new)

Kat (superkatness) | 13 comments Ruby wrote: "I just saw this post about Middle Eastern books and when I get to section on Iran, there is "Persian History", Islam, and a few other topics.

What is less understood about Iran is that they are n..."


What are some of your favorite books from the region that you would recommend?


message 37: by Carly (new)

Carly Svamvour (FaganLady) | 106 comments I'm in the midst of reading House of Stone, but I don't know where to put comments - where is the discussion thread on this one?


message 38: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Carly wrote: "I'm in the midst of reading House of Stone, but I don't know where to put comments - where is the discussion thread on this one?"

Here it is Carly! I hope to add to the discussion later this weekend.
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


back to top