martes, 1 de junio de 2010

Arabic Literature Mini-Cycle


While I'd envisioned myself reading much more African literature and a bit more Arabic literature in translation this year back when I was daydreaming about my year-long reading projects in January, I've done about as good a job at that so far as I have at "community outreach" to the vocal but apparently über-fragile YA blogging community.  My bad.  To get things moving in the right direction, I've decided to embark on an Arabic literature mini-cycle this month to include a reading of Naguib Mahfouz's Miramar (Egypt, 1967), Nawal El Saadawi's God Dies by the Nile (Egypt, 1974), and Tayeb Salih's The Wedding of Zein (Sudan, 1969).  I actually just finished the short Mahfouz novel tonight (a complete delight that now has me primed to take on his expansive Cairo Trilogy later on in the year), but I'm really looking forward to the El Sadaawi book based on its rep as an Arabic women's studies classic and to Salih's The Wedding of Zein (a packaging of the title novella and two short stories) since his Season of Migration to the North was one of my best of the year candidates for 2009.  In other African news, I'm also in the middle of Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiongo's 1978 Petals of Blood and quite enjoying that as well.  Finally, on a related note to all this, I came across this absolutely ace resource for Arabic lit recommendations the day after I made my reading choices for the mini-cycle--and strongly suggest you take a look at it if you're interested in checking out some authors from this language and/or regions.  Other titles on deck this month: Roberto Arlt's Los siete locos, Dante's Inferno, Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad, and  Gabriel Josipovici's Moo Pak (this last work = Emily's pick for our shared read discussion set to take place on 6/25: please join us if you can!).  Will see how many I can get to after only finishing two books all of last month.

6 comentarios:

  1. I just discovered that site, too, and have been prowling around it.

    She's doing what blogs ought to be doing, no offense meant to anyone not doing what she's doing. It's a great site.

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  2. It's funny that we just put up "Here's my reading plan!" posts almost simultaneously. Yours sounds great. I was just reminded of your love for Seasons of Migration to the North when EL Fay reviewed it - sounds like a definite pick for the TBR.

    We should have done the Cairo trilogy instead of Undset! Ugh, it's all my fault. :-)

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  3. That looks like a valuable site. I can't recall reading any Arabic literature outside of 1001 Nights, but I might have to add some to my list.

    Will you be reading Cien Años de Soledad in Spanish? I have a copy, but despite loving the English translation, I've never quite managed to pick it up.

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  4. I'm reading Albert Cossery's A Splendid Conspiracy right now. It was written in French but the author is Egyptian.

    I'd be interested in doing the Cairo trilogy too. I'm actually glad we did Undset though, even though I didn't finish it. I probably would've read it on my own anyway but having everyone else's commentary was a lot of fun.

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  5. The "über-fragile YA blogging community" . . . There sure are a lot of adults out there whose blogs focus on teen books. I know YA is really big right now but I still find that rather odd. Does the "fragile" part come from that email you mentioned in your comments on the Lanagan post? I'm curious about what "blogging etiquette" you allegedly violated.

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  6. *Amateur Reader: I haven't explored the rest of the site too much yet, but that list of recommendations for books to be read for the challenge is just priceless. Imagine I'll return to it again and again.

    *Emily: Can't say enough good things about Season of Migration to the North--hope you get a chance to check it out for yourself some day (I'd love to read your essay on its strengths and weaknesses)! The Cairo Trilogy promises to be good fun whenever we all get around to it, but at least the Undset trilogy trauma was a good bonding experience for the gang. Tough to predict these things ahead of time, no?

    *Amanda: I, too, have read very little Arabic literature over the years, but the best things I've sampled so far (Ibn Hazm's The Ring of the Dove, al-Hariri's Makamat, Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, among others) have whet my appetite for the rest of the goodies in store. And yes, I will be reading Cien años de soledad in Spanish. García Márquez usually isn't too difficult for me to follow, but he does send me to the dictionary a bit more often than some of his contemporaries! Cool that you have that experience awaiting you as well some day, though. :)

    *E.L. Fay: What Egyptian synchronicity we have going on these days! Have you read anything else by Mahfouz? I used his Miramar to see if I really wanted to spend over 1,000 pages with The Cairo Trilogy, but now I'm definitely all gung-ho for that one. On the YA "fragile" thing, yeah, it has almost everything to do with the e-mail I got in response to my Tender Morsels post. I don't know if I can do justice to all the blogger's main complaints (around 10 paragraphs were spent condemning a goofball two-sentence post), but three of the biggies were that I had disrespectfully trashed a novel that I knew another people loved, that I had insulted fans of the book (supposedly divisively insisting that people who liked Tender Morsels were morons), and--my favorite--that I had used the unicorn joke in a possibly sexist way. Props to the blogger for sharing his differences with my two-sentence post at such length, but I'm not sure why some YA fans are so sensitive that 1) they can't take a joke, and 2) they need my affirmation to enjoy their reading material (other Tender Morsels readers were supposedly offended as well). WTF? Did somebody die and make me Oprah?!?

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