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The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction

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The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction

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This dazzling anthology features the work of seventy-nine outstanding writers from all over the Arab-speaking world, from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east, Syria in the north to Sudan in the...
This dazzling anthology features the work of seventy-nine outstanding writers from all over the Arab-speaking world, from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east, Syria in the north to Sudan in the...
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Description-
  • This dazzling anthology features the work of seventy-nine outstanding writers from all over the Arab-speaking world, from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east, Syria in the north to Sudan in the south.
    Edited by Denys Johnson-Davies, called by Edward Said "the leading Arabic-to-English translator of our time," this treasury of Arab voices is diverse in styles and concerns, but united by a common language. It spans the full history of modern Arabic literature, from its roots in western cultural influence at the end of the nineteenth century to the present-day flowering of Naguib Mahfouz's literary sons and daughters. Among the Egyptian writers who laid the foundation for the Arabic literary renaissance are the great Tawfik al-Hakim; the short story pioneer Mahmoud Teymour; and Yusuf Idris, who embraced Egypt's vibrant spoken vernacular. An excerpt from the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih's novel Season of Migration to the North, one of the Arab world's finest, appears alongside the Libyan writer Ibrahim al-Koni's tales of the Tuaregs of North Africa, the Iraqi writer Mohamed Khudayir's masterly story "Clocks Like Horses," and the work of such women writers as Lebanon's Hanan al-Shaykh and Morocco's Leila Abouzeid.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Ibrahim Abdel Meguid(b. 1946)

    EGYPT

    Ibrahim Abdel Meguid has combined critical and creative writing throughout his literary career. His novel The Other Place was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature and was published in translation by the American University in Cairo Press in 1997. His latest novel, also about Alexandria, is entitled Birds of Amber. He is a consultant for cultural matters at the Popular Culture Council. No One Sleeps in Alexandria, from which the extract below has been taken, describes how the Second World War affects the lives of an assortment of Egyptians who settled in Alexandria, Egypt's second city. Two of the main characters are a devout Muslim with peasant roots and a Copt; the novel looks at their unusual friendship and explores the delicate question of religious differences.

    FROM No One Sleeps in Alexandria

    During the past few weeks, the city of Alexandria had built a number of open shelters in the poorer neighborhoods, but the inhabitants use them to relieve themselves. That forced the municipality to assign policemen to guard the shelters, and stopped the building process. The military court in Alexandria, under the emergency law, held a session to try a poor girl who was practicing prostitution without a license. She was fined three Egyptian pounds. A house in Karmuz was raided for being an unlicensed brothel. When the police surrounded the house, the owner shouted, "Where's Goebbels? Where's the Gestapo? I am Hitler!" But the valiant policemen were not fooled. They arrested him and gave him a sound beating on the back of his neck. The newspapers received a great number of letters asking about the beautiful Hollywood actress Norma Shearer and whether she would remarry after the death of her husband. The answer was in the affirmative, that the prospective husband was the actor George Raft, with whom she had a close relationship while her husband was still alive. People were also wary and cautious, as the Italians were a stone's throw away from Alexandria. That was why, when the air-raid sirens were heard several times in the daytime, they realized immediately that these were no longer drills, and when they saw anti-aircraft guns blasting away, they were certain that the time of drills was gone.

    Strict orders were given to drivers to paint their headlights dark blue, after it was noticed that they had become lax about it in the past few months. People were instructed to paint their windows and to apply adhesive gauze strips vertically and horizontally to the glass from inside so that it would not fly around if shattered. People were also warned not to assemble on the streets during raids, and that all vehicles must come to a stop and passengers get out of the cars. Landlords were instructed to vacate the ground floors of their buildings and to convert them to shelters for people without access to the public shelters. People whose property was damaged as a result of the air raids were told to apply as soon as possible to the city of Alexandria to get new building materials--wood, steel, and cement--to repair the damage or to reinforce old buildings.

    That night when Magd al-Din awoke, people heard the intermittent sound of the sirens and felt it was different from earlier ones. It was accompanied by unusual scurrying about and panic; there was more worry in their hearts. The daytime air raids the previous week had been shorter and had not caused any obvious casualties or damage. Tonight it seemed that real war would come to the sky over Alexandria.

    It was midnight and very hot. A few people walking on Ban Street quickly went into the nearby houses and stood in the entrances. Two...

About the Author-
  • Denys Johnson-Davies, "the leading Arabic-English translator of our time" according to Edward Said, has translated more than twenty-five volumes of short stories, novels, plays, and poetry, and was the first to translate the work of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He is also interested in Islamic studies and is co-translator of three volumes of Prophetic Hadith. Recently he has written a number of children's books adapted from traditional Arabic sources, and a collection of his own short stories, Fate of a Prisoner, was published in 1999. Born in Canada, he grew up in Sudan and East Africa and now divides his time bewteen Marrakesh and Cairo.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Denys Johnson-Davies
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