Unbuttoning the Violin
by Mansoura Ez-Eldin, Joumana Haddad, Ala Hlehel and Abed Ismael
ISBN: 0-9549666-2-7

Pre-eminent among young Arab writers today are two poets and two fiction writers from countries with literary heritages that go to the heart of Arab literature's heritage – poets Joumana Haddad from Lebanon and Abed Ismael from Syria, and fiction writers Ala Hlehel from Palestine and Mansoura Ez-Eldin from Egypt.

Unbuttoning the Violin was published to accompany the Banipal LIve 2006 UK tour, a joint venture by Banipal, the British Council and The Reading Agency.  For more information, click here

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In the words of their translators:

Mansoura’s first novel is remarkable, not only for its freshness of vision but also for its precision of language – a truly original creation

Paul Starkey


At once sensual and cerebral, anarchic and self-contained, in Joumana’s poems one hears the voice of Lilith, rebel woman at the origins of all three Abrahamic monotheisms

Marilyn Hacker


Stunningly simple, refreshingly honest, Ala Hlehel’s style resonates far beyond the daily traumas of occupied Palestine

Anthony Calderbank



One of the most prominent young poets of Syria, Abed’s poetry is intensely individual, concerned as it is with existential issues that press him for an answer

Issa J Boullata

Reviewed on the Laura Hird ezine