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The summer issue, Banipal 44 – 12 Women Writers, is out today, both print and digital editions – a feast of fiction for the summer months. Through four short stories and eight chapters of novels, the issue celebrates 12 women writers who write eloquently and forcefully on human issues such as loss, identity, personal awakening, family relations, migration, exile, being black in the Arab world, prejudice, dealing with prison and discrimination, travel and local customs.
It was a difficult task selecting twelve authors out of the many terrific women writers from across the Arab world. We also invited some of the twelve to contribute a personal testimony on how they started writing and what it means to them in order to better introduce readers to authors they may never have read. The writers come from nine countries – Huzama Habayeb from Palestine, Leila Aboulela from Sudan, from Syria Lina Hawyan al-Hassan and Maha Hassan, Hawra al-Nadawi from Iraq, Huda al-Jahouri from Oman, Rachida el-Charni from Tunisia, Latifa Labsir and Hanane Derkaoui from Morocco, Fadhila el Farouk from Algeria, Renée Hayek from Lebanon and Mansoura Ez Eldin from Egypt. We hope to see many of these being translated in full.
Banipal 44 opens with an excerpt from Comedy of Ghosts, by prolific novelist and poet Fadhil al-Azzawi, followed by Timbuktu-born Omar al-Ansari, whose young narrator is taken by his uncle on a gazelle hunt. Iraqi author Hussain al-Mozany, writing in German, and like Fadhil based in Berlin, gives the reader a humorous glimpse into the multi-ethnic world of the city. We are also pleased to include an excerpt from a novel by talented young Saudi author, Mohammed Hasan Alwan, translated by the British Centre for Literary Translation’s translation workshop last summer, which was led by Paul Starkey. In the Literary Influences feature, Habib Selmi tells an engrossing tale of how he became a writer in A House with no Books.
Banipal's editor Samuel Shimon reflects on the fact that Banipal is “an Arab literary magazine published in English, rather than an English magazine about Arab literature” and is dedicated to promoting and encouraging “literature that truly reflects in an honest and faithful way the developments in creative writing across the Arab world”. As part of that task, we are now including illustrations of the original Arabic front covers, as well as a photograph of each author. In addition, we make a return to reviewing books in Arabic, as well as those in French, German and other languages, beginning with the superb novel by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge, short-listed for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Banipal 44 includes for the first time a new Guest Writer occasional feature, enabling us to invite works from a prominent author outside the Arab world. Our first Guest Writer is the American poet Marilyn Hacker, who, earlier this year, was awarded the Argana International Poetry Prize by the House of Poetry in Morocco.
Banipal 44’s Last Page feature is a thought-provoking article by Emirati author Mariam al-Saedi about her visit to South Korea to take part in the Asia Africa and Latin America Literature Forum.
Do get in touch if you would like to know more about a particular author, or our plans for future issues.
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