An excellent primer for those who are interested in exploring the world of Arab fiction and authors. Some known to the English speaking world, others unknown, writing from across the breadth of the Arab speaking world: Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Sudan, though most of these novel excerpts and short stories are Egyptian.
My personal favorites here are Alaa Al Aswany, Hala El Badry (Egypt), Hoda Barakat (Lebanon), Mohammed Barada and Mohammed Choukri (Morocco), (Choukri’s novels are available in English, translated by Paul Bowles - said to be an illiterate who learned how to read and write at the age of 21. Many of his novels were banned in Morocco due to their subject matter. A writer definitely worth exploring), Ahmad Faqi (Libya), Emile Habiby (Palestine), Tawfik al-Hakim (Egypt), Bensalim Himmich (Morocco) just to name a few.
What the Western reader will find here is writing that is uniquely suited to Arab and Islamic culture as well as a fusion between the Arab world and the best of the classic Western literature, since much of western literature began to filter its way down to the Arab world via colonialism and the fact that many of these writers had studied abroad, mostly in Europe, and the western influence is quite evident on many of these tales. But they all give a little insight into the customs and mores of the Arab world and while some of these stories and excerpts may be weaker than others, the great majority of them are well worth exploring for those who wish to venture beyond the literature of the western world. Definitely recommended.
Rating: * * * *