General Post (got some new books)

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything (around two long months) but I haven’t abandoned translating “Aisha Descends Into the Underworld” and I’m not even thinking of doing that. I’ve also discovered several typos in the first post so I’ll go over it carefully some time soon. My laptop went haywire a while ago and I just need to get it fixed without formatting -hopefully- because the next part is already translated and ready in my laptop.

So yeah, moving on to more exciting things. I just returned from a short trip to Cairo, Egypt (just spent a week there ’cause we have a pathetic excuse for Spring Break at uni) and although, sadly, I haven’t scoured the bookstores of Cairo as much as I would have liked, I came back with five Arabic books.

And I got all excited and felt like sharing my findings. The following blurbs are all translated by me except for the blurb for ‘Return of the Spirit’ by Tawfiq Al-Hakim, so please tell me if you’d like to use any of those blurbs, and do give credit to me as well if you use them.

bab il5oruj

  • Title: ‘The Exit Door’ by Izzedein Shukri Fasheer.
  • Published by: Dar Al-Shorouk.
  • Year of Publication: 2012.
  • Number of Pages: 483 pages.
  • Blurb: 

“Dear Yahya,

Today is October 20th, 2020, and by the time you get this letter exactly two days from now, I will be a prisoner or a corpse. They would either tell you that your father died a hero, or you would read in the papers the news of my grand betrayal and of my arrest. I, who witnessed with my very own eyes all kinds of betrayal–they would throw me with their disease and escape as they did before, dozens of times. I didn’t try to stop them before, but I won’t let them get away with it this time. No, not this time. This is my fury, the fury of a lifetime; a fury that might be the last, but I won’t let it go to waste. I have taken my precautions and decided to not play the role of the victim, and this letter may be my last lifeline if all the other precautions have failed. So take care of it, for this might be the distinction between betrayal and heroism.”

Nobody knows the content of this shipment except for six people: a Chinese man, two from North Korea, President Al-Kattan, General Al-Maneesi, and I–or that is how it’s supposed to be. But the truth is that this quiet ship with few hands and passengers will be swept by a full troop of American Marines at four in the morning tomorrow, which means exactly twenty four hours later. The truth also is that I -the silent interpretor who never in his life had taken a strong stand- is the one who informed them. I am the traitor.

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  • Title: ‘The Blue Elephant’ by Ahmed Murad
  • Published by: Dar Al-Shorouk.
  • Year of Publication: 2012.
  • Number of Pages: 436 pages.
  • Blurb:

After five years of volitional isolation, Dr. Yahya resumes his work in Al-Abassiya psychiatric hospital where a surprise awaits him…

In “8 West”, the section that determines the fate of crime perpetrators, he meets an old friend who brings back a past that he’d tried to forget for a long time, and one whose fate is suddenly in Yahya’s hands. Surprises rack Yahya and turn his life upside down, and what has started as an attempt to discover the truth about his friend is now an exciting trip of self-discovery.

Or what was left of his self.

Ahmed Murad takes us in his third novel to the nightmares of a strange world that he’d spent two years studying its specifics; a thrilling trip that leads us to discover the deepest and most strange mysteries of the human psyche.

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  • Title: ‘The Pirate’ by Abdelaziz Al Mahmoud (a historical novel).
  • Published by: Bloomsbury – Qatar Foundation Publishing.
  • Year of Publication: October 2011.
  • Number of Pages: 411 pages.
  • Blurb:

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a bloody and violent struggle took place between the British Empire and the Arab tribes of the Gulf in order to control the region, as well as a frantic race to obtain a rare sword studded with jewels.

The British ruler in Mombai sends a precious sword to Ibrahim Basha, the leader of the Egyptian army, to tempt him to form an alliance with Britain to crush the fledgling Wahabbi movement and its allies from the Arab tribes. But when the ships of Arhama bin Jaber the Pirate attack the British ship that is carrying this invaluable gift, the doors to hell open on the Pirate. He is hunted by the British Navy, and a series of great and successive events begin that changes the reality and future of the region forever.
An exciting novel written in a literary and interesting style about an unknown and important period in the history of our Arab world.

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Both revolution and romance are at the heart of Return of the Spirit, first published in Arabic in 1933.The story of a patriotic young Egyptian and his extended family, ending with events surrounding the 1919 revolution—for al-Hakim, a literal awakening of the Egyptian spirit—Return of the Spirit with its strong expression of nationalist solidarity has particular resonance now. Admiration for the novel by the military entrepreneurs who replaced Egypt’s monarchy in 1952 temporarily dampened enthusiasm for it; but the 2011 Tahrir revolution has made it seem once again as fresh as today’s news.

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  •  Title: ‘al-Sanja’ by Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq.
  • Published by: Bloomsbury – Qatar Foundation Publishing.
  • Year of Publication: October 2012.
  • Number of Pages: 266 pages.
  • Blurb:

The missing or deceased man was a novelist, and it’s said that he’s relatively famous. But the truth is that nobody knows him at all, and nobody has read a word by him previously–which means that he himself is the source of the rumor that he’s a relatively famous writer. Writers always commit suicide in the end. Investigators know that, but they also know that writers don’t put an effort into hiding their bodies after suicide: they are careless and leave their bodies with their exploded brains or slashed veins anywhere, as though other people are their servants. And no wonder, because they are vain as well. So does the man called Esam Sharkawi happen to be the most civilized and organized writer in the last few years?

In the next pages, we will commit a heroic act: we will attempt to find out the secret behind the disappearance of Esam Sharkawi, and this would require us to look incessantly until we find a lead–and maybe we won’t.
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New Project: ‘Aisha Descends into the Underworld’ by Buthaina Al-Eissa

ImageHi everyone! I want to mention a new project that I will be working on (this time a much longer book than TDoaEYP which is currently on hiatus) from a creative voice in the Arab world. I’ve read a book (more like booklet) by Buthaina Al-Eissa, a Kuwaiti writer, before this one that was basically a collection of extremely short stories that spanned a page or two at most and which I was completely absorbed by. Her prose was unlike anything I’ve read before in Arabic literature (not that I’ve read that much Arabic fiction anyway) and I added all of her books to my ‘to-read’ list.

Aisha Descends into the Underworld has been described by reviewers on Good Reads as a book about death and loss, and a journey that takes the readers into the depth of Aisha’s tired soul.

Here’s the blurb on the back of the book (which is actually the first lines of the book):

I am Aisha.
I will die in seven days.
And until then, I decided to write.
I don’t know how writing is supposed to start, probably from a place like this where everything leafs with doubt.

Writing seems to be the only thing I can do. I want to put the last period in the last sentence before I get swallowed by absence.
I have decided for my last days to be like this. I mean, like writing. A word is a fragile and tenuous creature, like me. And I, in my last days, wish to look like me as much as possible. I’m doing this for me; these papers, this writing, this wound: for me.

This writing is not a biography of my life. What has passed isn’t worthy of interest; everything is now done and finished. This writing goes nowhere and I don’t think I have lived a life that deserves to be documented. I am writing to be clear with myself, alone with myself, full of myself. This writing does not cure, but kills.

Death is good, and I wish for it with all my heart.