Book Reviews

Banipal issues include reviews of some of the latest works by Arab authors, either from their original editions or as published in translation, presenting a combination of reviews in works in English, Arabic, French or German.


Banipal 62


Ibn Khaldun, An Intellectual Biography

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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Banipal 62


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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Banipal 61


Frankenstein in Baghdad

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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Banipal 61


All the Battles

A novel about sport is a new thing in Arabic. Jordanian author Maan Abu Taleb acknowledges the linguistic challenges of writing in a novel about boxing, that is also about the universal human predicament, and thus the experimental nature of the Arabic version.

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Banipal 60


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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Banipal 60


Tuyour al-Nab’a Birds of al-Nab’a by Abdallah Uld Mohamadi Bah

Mauritanians have such a passion for poetry that their country is widely known as the land of a million poets.

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Banipal 60


Farewell, Damascus by Ghada Samman

Ghada Samman’s latest novel in English translation, Farewell, Damascus, was published in Arabic in 2014 and is set in mid-sixties Damascus and Beirut.

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Banipal 60


No Road to Paradise by Hassan Daoud

Hassan Daoud is the author of ten novels and three short story collections, and has recently been described as ‘one of Lebanon’s most important living writers’.

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Banipal 59


The President’s Gardens by Muhsin al-Ramli

“In a land without bananas, the village awoke to nine banana crates, each containing the severed head of one of its sons . . . Each head had a story.

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Banipal 58


Al-Khaima al-Baidha’ (The White Tent) by Liana Badr

In her many works the writer and filmmaker Liana Badr documents the different stages of Palestinian national struggle against occupation and chronicles the Palestinian diaspora experience, including the Nakba of 1948.

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Banipal 58


Saba’t Gurabaa’ fil-Madina (Seven Strangers in Town)

“Sergeant Abdel Hai’s job was to keep an eye all night on the insurgents held in custody at the military garrison, and hand them over at dawn to the firing squad.

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Banipal 57


The Ninety-Ninth Floor by Jana Fawaz El Hassan

The novel is a frank look at love between two conflicting characters: their deep and divisive family roots, irreconcilable backgrounds, and the underlying forces that hold them together. Set in both New York and Lebanon, two worlds collide in the most painful, frustrating and fitful of ways.

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Banipal 57


No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khaled Khalifa

No Knives in the Kitchens of this City tells the story of the decline of a Syrian family over a period of sixty years. There are no winners in a country where freedom is limited not only by the regime, but also by the fear of other people’s judgement.

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Banipal 56


The Televangelist

The novel follows the fortunes of celebrity sheikh Hatem el-Shenawi, exposing the tensions within Egyptian society and the complex web of the country’s power structures. Essa explores the relationships between Egypt’s religious, political and business elites and state control of the media and the religious establishment, drawing a portrait of contemporary Egyptian society.

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Banipal 56


The Jungo: Stakes of the Earth

When The Jungo Stakes of the Earth was published in Arabic in Sudan in 2009 it won the national Tayeb Salih literary prize but in 2010 every copy was confiscated and burned by the Sudanese authorities.

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Banipal 54


My Torturess

The novel’s first-person protagonist Hamuda is a blameless and scholarly bookseller from the Moroccan town of Oujda. His ordeal begins when he is dragged from his bookstore by three masked men claiming to be from the secret police. They inject him with drugs, put him aboard a helicopter and dress him in a blue uniform.

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Banipal 54


Hurma

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Banipal 54


Who's Afraid of Meryl Streep

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Banipal 53


The Broken Mirrors/Sinalcol

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Banipal 53


Women of Karantina

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Banipal 53


Studying Modern Arabic Literature: Mustafa Badawi, Scholar and Critic

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Banipal 53


Revolution Is My Name: An Egyptian Woman's Diary From Eighteen Days in Tahrir

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Banipal 52


Harraga

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Banipal 52


The Book of Khalid

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Banipal 52


Dates on my FIngers

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Banipal 52


The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi

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Banipal 52


African Titanics

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Banipal 51


Beirut, Beirut

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Banipal 51


Land of No Rain

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Banipal 51


The Bridges of Constantine

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Banipal 50


The Whole Shadow of Man - Alessandro Spina's Libyan Epic

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Banipal 50


The Arch and The Butterfly

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Banipal 50


Other Lives

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Banipal 50


June Rain

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Banipal 50


La Coquille – Prisonnier politique en Syrie

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Banipal 49


Leg over Leg

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Banipal 49


Private Pleasures

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Banipal 49


The Corpse Washer

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Banipal 49


The Open Windows

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Banipal 48


Carnival

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Banipal 48


2 novels by Mahmoud Saeed

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Banipal 48


The Lady from Tel Aviv

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Banipal 47


The Mehlis Report

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Banipal 47


That Smell and Notes from Prison

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Banipal 47


Throwing Sparks

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Banipal 46


Tales of Encounter: Three Egyptian Novellas

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Banipal 46


Horses of God

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Banipal 46


A Land Without Jasmine

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Banipal 46


Nostalgia, My Enemy

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Banipal 45


Azazeel

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Banipal 45


Time of White Horses

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Banipal 45


The Magic of Turquoise

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Banipal 45


House of Stone

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Banipal 44


Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge

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Banipal 44


A Tunisian Tale

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Banipal 44


The Hashish Waiter

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Banipal 44


Les Plumes

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Banipal 43


Disordered World by Amin Maalouf

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Banipal 43


The Art of Forgetting by Ahlem Mosteghanemi

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Banipal 43


The Traveler and the Innkeeper by Fadhil al-Azzawi

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Banipal 43


Heavenly Life: Selected Poems by Ramsey Nasr

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Banipal 42


In a Fertile Desert, selected, translated and introduced by Denys Johnson-Davies

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Banipal 42


My Early Life by Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi

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Banipal 42


Homeless Rats by Ahmed Fagih and Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

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Banipal 42


One Day in April by Jad El Hage

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Banipal 41


Adonis: Selected Poems

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Banipal 41


Spectres by Radwa Ashour

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Banipal 41


Bye Bye Babylone : Beyrouth 1975-1979 by Lamia Ziade

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Banipal 41


I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish

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Banipal 40


Yalo by Elias Khoury

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Banipal 40


Like a Summer Never to be Repeated by Mohamed Berrada

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Banipal 40


The Loved Ones by Alia Mamdouh

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Banipal 40


White Masks by Elias Khoury

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Banipal 39


Treason by Hédi Kaddour

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Banipal 39


Journal of an Ordinary Grief by Mahmoud Darwish

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Banipal 39


The American Granddaughter by Inaam Kachachi

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Banipal 39


Moon over Samarqand by Mohamed Mansi Qandil

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Banipal 38


The Last of the Angels by Fadhil Al-Azzawi

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Banipal 38


Flawed Landscape by Sharif S. Elmusa

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Banipal 38


Tocqueville by Khaled Mattawa

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Banipal 37


Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Guene

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Banipal 37


Thirsty River by Rodaan Al Galidi

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Banipal 36


The Baghdad Blues by Sinan Antoon

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Banipal 36


Two novels by Bahaa Taher

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Banipal 36


Cockroach by Rawi Hage

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Banipal 35


A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

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Banipal 35


Cairo Modern by Naguib Mahfouz

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Banipal 35


In Their Father's Country by Anne-Marie Drosso

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Banipal 34


Chicago by Alaa Al-Aswany

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Banipal 34


Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf by Sarah al-Hamad

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Banipal 34


Wedding Night by Yusuf Abu Rayya

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Banipal 33


The Journals of Sarab Affan by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

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Banipal 33


The Earth in the Attic by Fady Joudah

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Banipal 33


La Nuit de l’étranger by Habib Selmi

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Banipal 33


The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdullah

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Banipal 33


Gold Dust by Ibrahim al-Koni

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Banipal 33


Wild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan Younes

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Banipal 32


Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher

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Banipal 32


Tender Spot, Selected poems of Naomi Shihab Nye

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Banipal 32


Banquet of Lies by Amin Zaoui

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Banipal 31


Embers and Ashes – Memoirs of an Arab Intellectual

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Banipal 31


Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

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Banipal 31


Dissident Syria by Miriam Cooke

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Banipal 31


Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed

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Banipal 31


Outcast by Shimon Ballas

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Banipal 31


Inside the Night by Ibrahim Nasrallah

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Banipal 31


Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s Nobel Laureate by Rasheed El-Enany

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Banipal 30


The Lodging House by Khairy Shalaby

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Banipal 30


Learning English by Rachid al-Daif

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Banipal 30


Being Abbas El Abd by Ahmed Alaidy

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Banipal 30


The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf

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Banipal 30


Maryam’s Maze by Mansoura Ez-Eldin

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Banipal 30


The Butcher's Confesssion by Hussain al-Mozany

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Banipal 29


I'jaam – An Iraqi Rhapsody by Sinan Antoon

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Banipal 29


Thieves in Retirement by Hamdi Abu Golayyel

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Banipal 28


Saraya, The Ogre's Daughter by Emile Habiby

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Banipal 28


De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage (winner of the 2008 IMPAC prize)

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Banipal 27


Stephen Watts reviews poetry collections by Mahmoud Darwish and Nadia Tueni

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Banipal 27


Zuzana Kratka reviews two novels by Ibrahim Aslan

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Banipal 26


In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

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Banipal 26


Le Roman Arabe by Kadhim Jihad Hassan

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Banipal 25


Cabaret Su’ad by Mohammed Suwaid

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Banipal 25


Memories in Translation: A Life between the Lines of Arabic Literature by Denys Johnson-Davies

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Banipal 25


Yasser Arafat Looked at me and Smiled by Youssef Bazzi

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Banipal 25


Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury

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Banipal 24


Damascus – Taste of a City by Marie Fadel as told to Rafik Schami

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Banipal 24


Jidar Bayn Dhulmatain / Asrar Abdullah / Al-Hudud Al-Barriya

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Banipal 23


Anubis A Desert Novel by Ibrahim al-Koni

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Banipal 22


An Iraqi in Paris by Samuel Shimon

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Banipal 22


Die Reise nach Tell al-Lahm by Najem Wali

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Banipal 22


Zayni Barakat

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Banipal 21


A Red Cherry on a White-tiled Floor

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Banipal 21


A Small Sun

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Banipal 21


A Woman of This Modern Age

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Banipal 21


Traps of Scent

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Banipal 20


Yawm al-Din (Judgment Day)

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Banipal 19


Adama

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Banipal 19


Miracle Maker

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Banipal 17


A poet of light, earth and sea

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Banipal 10


I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghgouti

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Banipal 8


The Sand Child, The Sacred Night and The Wrong Night

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Banipal 6


Arab authors published in French

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Banipal 6


The Tent

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Banipal 5


Dear Mr Kawabata

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Banipal 1


Hassouna Mosbahi's Short Stories

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Banipal 1


Ismailia Eclipse

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