Middle East/North African Lit discussion

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2011 ME cruise > 2011 Stop (2) Nile valley and the Horn of Africa

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message 1: by Niledaughter (last edited Mar 31, 2011 01:05AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
March & April 2011

This stop will include : Egypt ,Sudan , Somalia , Djibouti, Comoros

Our guest of honor is Egypt













message 2: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
We are here to share our recommendations for books ; two books , one from the guest of honor (Egypt) and the other from the rest of the region , or whatever you think is better , there will be two polls , you can participate in both or one , read one or two books , or just participate in the discussions ..

For Egypt … My home
I know there will very wide range of reading options when you need to read about /from Egypt : historical issues , political , contemporary , classics , feminism …etc.
So feel free to join us with your recommendations , I know there were several posts about this subject in other topics , but I hope you do not mind post your opinions here again .

For the moment , I am sure most of you will be interested in reading more about Egypt last events background , I believe there will be so much recommendations , just as a beginning The Yacoubian Buildingwill be a direct analytical explanation , anther one is Charaf ou l'honneurbut I am afraid we could not reach an English version of this one .also War in the Land of Egypt It is one of the best one hundred novels , anther non-fiction book is Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the Present

Feel free to check the group shelves or post your own selection , I will do some more homework later and get back here again , sorry it is a difficult time for me .


message 3: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
It is a crime that Sharaf has not been translated into English; Samia Mehrez translated a short excerpt, but as far as I know that's it. Bloomsbury-Qatar said they were looking into it, but then...I haven't heard about it again.

Galal Amin (What Ever Happened to the Egyptians?) also has another book coming out from AUC Press---Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak---that was supposed to be out this month, but their work, like much of ours, has been a little derailed. Next month, I hope.

I'm putting together a short list of Egyptian books on Tahrir and Revolution for Al Masry Al Youm; I will pass that along when I finish.

I love War in the Land of Egypt and second that recommendation!

If I haven't yet insisted that everyone here read Sonallah Ibrahim's beautiful 2007 novel Stealth, well, I insist now. Zaat is also an interesting one to discuss.

Also, some more biggies and favorites: Gamal al-Ghitani's Zayni Barakat, Fathy Ghanem's The Man Who Lost His Shadow, Mohamed Mansi Qandil's Moon over Samarqand, and The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim / The Essential Yusuf Idris.

Agh, there are simply too many good Egyptian books.


message 4: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywoo) | 240 comments Oooohhhh . .. the pictures you have posted are amazing! Thank you :-) I've read a few books about these areas, though they may not all meet the criteria of being "local" authors. Still, I enjoyed them, found them interesting, and felt like they gave me an opportunity to learn a bit about this part of the world. So, if anyone is interested, you might want to check out The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, Out of Egypt: A Memoir -- both are memoirs. I also enjoyed Emma's War a great deal and thought the author did a good job explaining the political situation in North and South Sudan (although I believe she is an American journalist who wrote the book). Just wanted to throw those out there in case anyone else is interested in checking them out. Looking forward to lots of good discussion. This is a timely topic given all that is happening right now in Egypt and the referendum in Sudan for Southern Sudan to be its own nation (what will it be called?).


message 5: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
Wendy wrote: "Oooohhhh . .. the pictures you have posted are amazing! Thank you :-) I've read a few books about these areas, though they may not all meet the criteria of being "local" authors. Still, I enjoye..."

Oh, I forgot Sudan. During the referendum, I wrote this short bit, "Literatures of the Sudan: North and South":

http://arablit.wordpress.com/2011/01/...

And as to Somalia, Nuruddin Farah is who springs to mind. Djibouti and Comoros...I don't know.


message 6: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Djibouti and Comoros are very very hard...i have experience from trying to do those in our African tour at the African group i moderate. i'll try to come up with some suggestions.

can we spend the whole year reading about and from Egypt????


message 7: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
hmmm i'm gonna check to see if Sharaf has been translated to German...


message 8: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Howett | 3 comments Thank you for sending me the list. Amazing photos!

Jacqueline Howett, author of The Greek Seaman,


message 9: by Laurie (new)

Laurie (LaurieHermann) I am very much looking forward to reading the books for this cruise stop....Nile Daughter, I will be grateful for your recommendations for Egypt....It seems so important to choose a relevant book for your country and this historical moment....I, personally, will go with your choice........I loved Infadel for Somalia, but I know the author is controversial....I guess I will appreciate the discussion on that....She seemed so articulate as her perimeter of understanding grew, and she seemed to brave.....but again I will appreciate the views of others in this group...I read the Map of Love, and enjoyed it....I read Emma's War, and it certainly gave me insights into that country and this moment of it's recent dividing into two countries, and the issue of who controls the oil, etc....There is never enough time to read everything....but I SO love the input each of you gives, and your book recommendations....Thank you from this person in Idaho!!! :)


message 10: by Terje (last edited Feb 11, 2011 01:28PM) (new)

Terje Skulstad | 9 comments Marcia wrote: "It is a crime that Sharaf has not been translated into English; Samia Mehrez translated a short excerpt, but as far as I know that's it. Bloomsbury-Qatar said they were looking into it, but then......"

Marcia wrote: "It is a crime that Sharaf has not been translated into English; Samia Mehrez translated a short excerpt, but as far as I know that's it. Bloomsbury-Qatar said they were looking into it, but then......"

Marcia wrote: "It is a crime that Sharaf has not been translated into English; Samia Mehrez translated a short excerpt, but as far as I know that's it. Bloomsbury-Qatar said they were looking into it, but then......"

I just started reading a new book" what happened to the Egyptians.." with a view on western capitalism and neocolonialism,. But it is still in my library in Norway.
Anyway these books " What happened to the Egyptians" are wellwritten and suites as an introduction to society.

The Yeaccobian building is a book and a film who is not far away, because its poetic and pregnant language underlines the cruelty in some of the stories.
However its interesting to see that one of the real creepy situations when the cardealer is meeting The Big Boss, there is only a Voice and he suddenly feels a huge danger for the man in charge, this scene is cut from the film and we saw now - in the last days of the President HM, why !
I thnink it is a very good introduction to some nice and odd, but also cruel and frightning, sides of egyptian society. And I feel the fingertip of Mahfouz... Terje


message 11: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
Thanks Marica , saying (Agh, there are simply too many good Egyptian books) really makes me happy :D :D .

For El masry elyoum , we will be waiting for that list , as links ; here are some of your recommendations :

Zaat, Moon Over Samarqand, the historical novel Zayni Barakat , and from the classics The Man Who Lost His Shadow: A Novel in Four Books (Modern Arabic Writing).

Wendy : thank you for your comment :)
I already own (The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit) and very interested in reading it , there is anther book in the same field The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora and I want to read that one too .

For Sudan :
one of the best 100 novel ever written world wide is Season of Migration to the North for , thanks to Marcia article you can reach more info about it , also from her article there is Cities Without Palms: A Modern Arabic Novel

To discuss the (north and south of Sudan) relationship , I came across Francis Mading Deng (prominent figure from south Sudan) that I am curious about his opinions ; a none fiction book War of Visions: Conflicts of Identities in the Sudan, novel : Cry of the Owl, memoir The Man Called Deng Majok: A Biography of Power, Polygyny and Change.

Jacqueline thanks and happy to have you with us :)

Laurie , thanks ; I will check Emma's War :)
For Somalia yes (infidel) is a controversial book , a biased one as far as I know , but I did not read it. there are other novels that I added to the bookshelves from a web site about Somali literature .
I also loved The Map of Love and I think it portrays Egypt very good .

Terje ..that was a very clever comment :) ! Do you suggest having (what happened to the Egyptians) as a side read ?

*******
I do not want to seem unfair or made a conspiracy with Marieke , but would not it better to concentrate on Egypt and Sudan in this stop , what do you think ?


message 12: by Terje (new)

Terje Skulstad | 9 comments Nile daughter wrote: "Thanks Marica , saying (Agh, there are simply too many good Egyptian books) really makes me happy :D :D .

For El masry elyoum , we will be waiting for that list , as links ; here are some of ..."

Yes I think it would be nice to stop with two countries which in many ways have been linked during history. For myself it would be suitable to make a profound dip into egyptian litterature this glamorous year.
I must admit that my knowledge to Sudanese litterature is very limited, but it can be astonishing and bright. Its also a historical year for the Sudans.


message 13: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
Nile daughter wrote: "Thanks Marica , saying (Agh, there are simply too many good Egyptian books) really makes me happy :D :D .

For El masry elyoum , we will be waiting for that list , as links ; here are some of ..."


They said they're running the piece tomorrow; the culture section has been moving a little slowly, so they're trying to spread things out.

And I'm sure I have just as much of a stake in Egyptian literature. :-) It is, after all, my livelihood and my watan.

I agree that just Egyptian and Sudanese literature is A LOT to get your mind around. Just contemporary Egyptian literature is a lot.


message 14: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
i'm totally on board with focusing on Egypt and Sudan. i can set up something up for the other countries, though...some people might want to check the others out.

and this IS an AMAZING and historical year for both the Sudanese and the Egyptians. i myself am feeling a little overwhelmed trying to follow events in both countries.


message 15: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments I'm all for focusing on Egypt and Sudan, as well. We can always put more focus on the other countries on next year's cruise! ;-)

I bought Yacoubian Building over a year ago, lent it to a friend, and still haven't gotten it back from her to read for myself. So that one definitely has my vote.

And I'll just throw out this one suggestion:
A Border Passage: From Cairo to America--A Woman's Journey


message 16: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
Bernadette wrote: "I'm all for focusing on Egypt and Sudan, as well. We can always put more focus on the other countries on next year's cruise! ;-)

I bought Yacoubian Building over a year ago, lent it to a friend, a..."


Oh, Leila Ahmed's book is very rich in discussion themes, yes.

I would rather read Al-Aswany's non-fiction, as far as that goes, but I guess none of it's in English.


message 17: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
ok :D
Since Egypt is the guest of honor , we will have two polls (fiction/non-fiction) , a 3rd poll for Sudan , in this way we wil have 3 books as last stop and poeple can pick what ever they want , what do you think ?

Marcia
For Egypt , we can focus on contemporary Egyptian literature to release your headache :p what do you think ?


message 18: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
For Sudan there is Leila Aboulela, I did not read for her myself , as far as I know Minaretis her best ? can someone help me here ?


message 19: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
Nile daughter wrote: "For Sudan there is Leila Aboulela, I did not read for her myself , as far as I know Minaretis her best ? can someone help me here ?"

I have only read /Lyrics Alley/, and...I was not impressed. Rather: I think her prose is highly accomplished, and she is an excellent storyteller, and I was turning pages to the end. But ultimately, it felt empty. She also seemed to be setting up a contrast of Egypt/Sudan as "civilized vs. natural," which made me uncomfortable.

But yes, there is Leila. Tarek el-Tayyeb, maybe some of the lesser known (not Seasons of Migration to the North) works of Tayyeb Salih. Amir Tag el-Sir is an important contemporary author, on the shortlist for this year's IPAF, but maybe nothing of his has been translated?

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudanese author) writes in English. People could get an idea for the flavor of his work by reading this story online at Banipal: http://www.banipal.co.uk/selections/5...


message 20: by Marcia, Arabic Literature (in English) (new)

Marcia Lynx | 155 comments Mod
Nile daughter wrote: "ok :D
Since Egypt is the guest of honor , we will have two polls (fiction/non-fiction) , a 3rd poll for Sudan , in this way we wil have 3 books as last stop and poeple can pick what ever they want..."


I think book groups are hard! :-) It's easier to plan a whole semester of coursework and reading.

**I think: Definitely some Sonallah Ibrahim needs to go on the list, and a salute to him for always having a brave stand against corruption and stagnation. He is one of Egypt's finest stylists, and I think his 2007 novel, Al-Talossos, is also highly emotional. Hosam Aboul-ela does an excellent job with the English translation, ditto Richard Jacquemond with the French, and of course Sonallah does fine work with the Arabic. :-)

**My "five books about revolution and Tahrir" piece is still not published! Argh, editors. But one we might consider off the list is Ibrahim Aslan's /The Heron/, set during the 1977 "bread riots" that almost unseated Sadat. Aslan---also a 60s generation author---has a much more lyrical style than Ibrahim. Well-done translation by Elliott Colla.

**Mohamed Mansi Qandil is not really associated with a "generation," but his /Moon over Samarqand/, published a few years back, is a remarkable accomplishment. Well-translated by Issa Boullata.

**Two "fun" reads are Taxi, Khaled al-Khamissi, and I Want to Get Married!, Ghada Abdel Aal.

**Youssef Ziedan's "controversial" Azazeel won't be out until...hmm...June, I think. Although Jonathan Wright says he finished the translation ages ago.

**Significant "90s generation" authors: Miral al-Tahawy, Ibrahim Farghali, and I think Mohammed Salah al-Azab is great...but not sure he's been translated except in bits and bobs.

**As for contemporary poets, I heart Ahmad Yamani, although maybe we're not doing poetry and maybe he doesn't have a collection in translation, either.


message 21: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
Marcia you are giving me a very hard job setting the polls !!

Thank you :D...


message 22: by M (last edited Feb 13, 2011 10:02AM) (new)

M (wwwgoodreadscomprofilem) | 31 comments Thank you for this amazing pictures from Egypt. I'm onboard for the cruise 2 & I'll add a lot of books on my list!


message 23: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 14, 2011 07:16PM) (new)

MadgeUK Wonderful pictures - thankyou! It is great that you have chosen to concentrate on Egypt at such as auspicious time. I look forward to an enlightening cruise - Vive la Revolution!


message 24: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
Michelle and MadgeUK , you are welcome and thank you both :D

Vive la Revolution! :D
**********

I want to add anther contemporary Egyptian novel Cairo Swan Song: A Modern Arabic Novel

an Important author Bahaa Taher, his novel Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery: A NovelDiscusses relations between Muslims and Christians in upper Egypt , Love in Exile is one of the best 1oo Arabic novel

*********
Marcia :
For Sonallah Ibrahim , which one is the best to be on the list ?


message 25: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I want to read *everything*


message 26: by Terje (new)

Terje Skulstad | 9 comments Yes, Tahers novel is faboulous, sad and beautyful.


message 27: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Marieke wrote: "I want to read *everything*"

Me, too!


message 28: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
:D :D

Polls are on the way soon , (2 for Egypt , 1 for Sudan), if anyone has any note , please post it .


message 29: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK This more historical Taher novel also looks interesting - I have ordered it (you are all costing me a fortune!!!)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunset-Oasis-...


message 30: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
Good choice MadgeUK :)I read that one , BTW it is the winner of Arabic Booker prize 2008


message 31: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
also I can forget Khairy Shalaby
I have to add The Lodging Houseto this thread


message 32: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thanks for all the suggestions here! I have orederedAunt Safiyya and the Monastery: A Novel (Egypt) and Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur. While I was at it I also stuck in There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children.

BTW Nile Daughter, several weeks ago I ordered A View from the Eye of the Storm. Remember? We talked about that: ABe Books had it: They have everything.


message 33: by Bernadette (last edited Feb 16, 2011 04:04AM) (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) | 205 comments Humphrey Davies on Egyptian Writing:
http://thebrowser.com/interviews/hump...

He suggests 5 books (4 of which he translated) that "may help the non-Egyptian reader to understand where Egyptians are at".


message 34: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
For Alaa Al Aswany , a non fiction book , but will be out in April

On the State of Egypt: A Novelist's Provocative Reflections
Bernadette, Thanks for the article , I guess it is important to add Life is More Beautiful than Paradise: A Jihadists Own Story
Chrissie , Happy to see you posting , thanks for the recommendations , you finally got that book ?


message 35: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Nile Daughter, it hasn't arrived yet.


message 36: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
I hope you will get it soon and read your review :)

From Sudan , since Marcia recommended Jamal Mahjoub , so we can add
In the Hour of Signs


message 37: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK I think I'll have to stop reading this thread, before I become a pauper!!:O (Unfortunately, I do not live near to a library.)


message 38: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "I think I'll have to stop reading this thread, before I become a pauper!!:O (Unfortunately, I do not live near to a library.)"

Ha! I decided quite awhile ago that goodreads is kind of bad for my health--both mental and financial! Some books just cannot be found at a library, even for those of us with multiple library options. And then therefor the stress of wanting to read everything but there simply isn't time.


message 39: by Terje (new)

Terje Skulstad | 9 comments Marieke wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I think I'll have to stop reading this thread, before I become a pauper!!:O (Unfortunately, I do not live near to a library.)"

Ha! I decided quite awhile ago that goodreads is ki..."

Hi, dont quit reading. Start with two books,compare them
with other experiances. You will find something better then the last haircut,


message 40: by Natalie (new)

Natalie  | 59 comments Marieke wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I think I'll have to stop reading this thread, before I become a pauper!!:O (Unfortunately, I do not live near to a library.)"

Ha! I decided quite awhile ago that goodreads is ki..."


I can relate. I do keep a list of the books I'd like to read and sort them by availability. Since there will never be enough time to read ALL the books I want to read I usually start with the ones I can get from my library >ebooks for nook>books>rarities etc.

The fiction reads for Egypt all sound very tempting; three of them are available at my library...I will pick them up tomorrow to take a peek. :-)


message 41: by Terje (new)

Terje Skulstad | 9 comments Marieke wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I think I'll have to stop reading this thread, before I become a pauper!!:O (Unfortunately, I do not live near to a library.)"

Ha! I decided quite awhile ago that goodreads is ki..."


Start with Mahfouz,
The Middaqq or The Thief


message 42: by okyrhoe (new)

okyrhoe | 141 comments "MadgeUK wrote: "the stress of wanting to read everything but there simply isn't time."

Maybe this is a consolation ;-) http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/...

For myself, making a choice of what to read depends on chance, most of the time.
I have been participating in shared readings of books (bookrings & bookrays) via Bookcrossing.com for some time now. It's a motivator to read a book now rather than later. The same goes for the focused readings of this group (my first such participation on GR).
I also have an ever-growing "wishlist" on Bookmooch.com and the availability (or not) of the titles I'm interested in determines what my upcoming reads will be.


message 43: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Okyrhoe, the quote makes me feel better about myself.


message 44: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
ha! i just added that quote. definitely a consolation. :D


message 45: by M (new)

M (wwwgoodreadscomprofilem) | 31 comments This is the quote of the day ! Thanks okyrhoe:D


message 46: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywoo) | 240 comments An excellent quote -- and a rule to live by :-) Goodreads has definitely contributed to my book habit. My wish list shelf on here is totally out of control. I could spend 5 years just reading all these Egypt books that have been posted on here. My mantra -- so many books, so little time.


message 47: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
I loved that quote !
I am glad I am not alone loosing control !!


message 48: by Natalie (new)

Natalie  | 59 comments MadgeUK wrote: "This more historical Taher novel also looks interesting - I have ordered it (you are all costing me a fortune!!!)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunset-Oasis-......"


We've got that one at our library. Yesterday I picked up The Yacoubian Building, The Map of Love, and Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery: A Novel at the library. They all sound fantastic (I've started reading in the Yacoubian). I am truly grateful I found this group! Thank you all for posting your recommendations and I am looking forward to our next group read.


message 49: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Natalie, i remember when i read the Yacoubian Building I wasn't sure I liked it at first. but it grew on me. so stick with it if it's not really appealing to you initially! :)


message 50: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 2787 comments Mod
Natalie, I am glad you feel this way :)


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