Current Issue: Banipal 62

Banipal 62

A Literary Journey through Arab Cinema

Banipal 62 – A Literary Journey through Arab Cinema is a special collaboration with London’s SAFAR film festival (13-18 September) and features articles and reviews on book and film pairs, including Horses of God, Men in the Sun, The Wedding of Zein, For Bread Alone and Gate of the Sun, plus presentations and an interview with Daoud Abdel Sayed, director of the famous Egyptian film Kit Kat, adapted from the novel The Heron. The issue opens with excerpts from novels: Memoirs in the Sun by Azouz Begag, Lutfiya al-Dulaimi’s Lovers, a Phonograph and Times, The Seer by Ahmad Ali El-Zein and After Coffee by Abdelrashid Mahmoudi. Liana Badr writes about her “Literary  Influences”, how learning to read at a very early age opened up a “wonderland” that never closed.

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The IV Odessa International Literature Festival (25 to 30 September) will present well-known and prize-winning authors from Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Iraq, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and USA. It also  features, this year, a special section for young readers with children's authors from four different countries presenting their books at the Odessa Puppet Theatre.

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Algerian novelist Mouloud Mammeri’s novels are thoroughly visual and rich in descriptions, vividly written with an abundance of fine details of nature and human life. Screening of the film contributed significantly to circulation of the novel while, conversely, the popularity of the novel and the name of its celebrated writer have granted the film a unique reception.

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Bassam Frangieh writes about Hanna Mina, a pioneer in modern Arabic literature and a leading force in the creation and development of the Arabic novel, who died on 21st August in Damascus, Syria, aged 94. Hanna Mina, a friend of the poor, an advocate of the oppressed, and defender of the marginalized, himself suffered hunger, displacement, and homelessness: he lived what he wrote.

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Ibn Khaldun was a polymath and has been seen as anticipating the theories of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx, among others. He was certainly a great inspiration to Arnold Toynbee (1889–1975), but has also been an influence on the science fiction of Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. Robert Irwin writes with authority, and his book is a delight to read.

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Lovers, a Phonograph and Times, by Iraqi author Lutfiya al-Dulaimi, presents an account of Iraq’s development from the early twentieth century under Ottoman rule through to the century’s end and the post-US-occupation era through four generations of the Kutubkhani family.

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Iraqi author Ahmed Saadawi’s novel is a profound, powerful and extraordinarily imaginative work. Part thriller, part horror story, part supernatural fantasy, part meditation on violence and justice, it is both harrowing and darkly comic.

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Ismail Fahd Ismail has died at the age of 78. A prolific Kuwaiti writer who was considered the spiritual father of the Kuwaiti novel, he was born in the village of al-Sabiliat in Basra, Iraq, in 1940. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Basra before returning to his family home and nation, Kuwait, in his early twenties just after publishing his first collection of short stories.

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Banipal 2 (Summer 1998) published a major interview with Adonis, that was entitled: "There are many Easts in the East and many Wests in the West". On 9 November this year Adonis will give the 3rd Annual Lecture of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. at the British Library. Adonis's influence as poet, philosopher and theoretician of Arab poetics is worldwide and we are pleased to support the Lecture and promote it as widely as possible.

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SAFAR Arab Film Festival . . .

The fourth edition of the biennial SAFAR Film Festival, at the ICA and the Institut français, London, 13-18 September, focused on literary adaptions to film from the 1960s to the present day – five decades of very powerful films, many of which were never screened in the UK before.  Wednesday evening is a chance to see The Dupes, the film of the novella Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani. Reserve your free place by clicking here.

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Book Review:
The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi’s novel describes in colourful detail the Baghdad neighbourhood in which its young protagonist grows up, in the period between the First Gulf War and the present, while many of the rhetorical questions posed by the young protagonist reveal her anger towards the outside world for the pain it has inflicted on her country.

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Abdullah Sakhi’s novel Duroob al-Fuqdan (Paths of Loss) has the highest gross sales of all Iraqi novels, with a reprint just a few months after first publication. Banipal 61 presents two chapters from the novel.

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This novel by Iraqi writer Dhia Jubaili is an allegorical reading of the Sunni-Shi’i sectarian conflict following the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq. In a fantastical re-enactment of Italo Calvino’s The Cloven Viscount, an Iraqi man falls into the hands of two terrorists, a Chechen and an Afghani, on the Iraq-Syria border.

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Book Review:
The Book of Safety

Yasser Abdel Hafez’s wonderful satire on modern-day Cairo is by no means a quick, easy ‘lit-fix’ read. Rich, profound and with a depth of imagination and whip-smart narrative stratigraphy, it can grab you from the very first line, hold your attention tight. Translated by Robin Moger, it won the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize.

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