New Online in October 2014: Arabic Literature in Translation

Newly translated and published online this month:

NOVEL EXCERPTS

The opening of the novel Otared, by Mohamed Rabie, trans. Robin Moger (Mada Masr)

This line of blood puts me in mind of many things.

It’s traced on the wall, not quite vertically but leaning at a slight angle and at its apex bending sharply back to the ground. Small droplets hang down, running from the edge of the bend. It reminds me of an ostrich’s tail feather, a column of water rising from a fountain, the glowing tracks of fireworks launched across the sky.

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SHORT STORIES

“Skybar,” by Hisham Bustani, trans. Thoraya El-Rayyes (The Literary Review)

Like stars on a dark black night, flocks of clouds passing before them—that was how bodies writhed in the celestial nightclub, slicing the lights as they undulated.

“Yunus and Yusuf,” by Mahmoud Saeed, trans. William Hutchins (Brooklyn Rail)

The shrouded body on the gurney seemed a station that broadcast alarm but also tranquility and calm. The faint light that came from the room beside the main entrance picked it out as did the gentle light from the small lamp directly above the physician’s chair.

“Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette,” by Rasha Abbas, trans. Alice Guthrie (Words Without Borders)

Bullet 1

Even though the voice ringing out from the stereo in your bedroom belongs to a singer who didn’t die at twenty-seven like those other musical geniuses—Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, that bunch—you still listen to him every morning.

“A Bedtime Story for Eid,” by Zaher Omareen, trans. Alice Guthrie (Words Without Borders)

—So he gave you a kiss, and wished you a happy Eid, and said “Send my love to your Mom”? My God, what a good memory that guy’s got! Yeah, those guys used to live over at al-Tawafra, right near al-Kaylaneya. You know where I mean, don’t you? Al-Tawafra was your grandparents’ old neighborhood, actually.

POETRY

“Light,” Amjad Nasser, trans. Fady Joudah (At Length)

During her final days, which we sort of knew would be her final days, since cancer rarely pulls a prank, and the eyes of farewell often don’t postpone what they want to say today for tomorrow, my mother, watching me prepare my suitcase for the departure I came from and to which I’d return, said in supplication: May God light your way.

Six Poems by Amjad Nasser, trans. Sinan Antoon and Fady Joudah (PEN America)

Since no family awaits you for dinner and there is no campaign to discipline the barbarians beyond the borders, what use is it to do in Rome as the Romans do?

From “The Desert Laughs Alone,” by Husam Al-Saray, trans. Alex V Gubbins (Asymptote)

The traitors push down
on her smooth back.
They scatter her perfume,
her red lipstick, her hair comb.

“I Am a Refugee,” by Mohamed Raouf Bachir, trans. Thomas Aplin (Words Without Borders)

My apologies, Sir,
That I come to you
As a refugee.
Accept me as a human being and not
As a slave.

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