The title story from poet, novelist and short story writer Yasser Abdel Latif’s Sawiris Prize-winning collection يونس في أحشاء الحوت (Kotob Khan, 2011) [Younis in the Belly of the Whale].
Another extract from Youssef Rakha’s باولو [Paulo], recently acquired by Dar Al-Saqi, the second novel in a planned trilogy and the sequel to التماسيح (Dar Al-Saqi, 2012) [The Crocodiles]. The novel takes the form of fifty nine sequential blog entries numbered in reverse (i.e. starting with 59 and ending on 1), authored by the eponymous Paulo, one of the central characters from The Crocodiles, now an ex-poet, a figure on the independent cultural scene, a revolutionary and a covert operative for the shadowy Wadie Bey, who narrates his adventures in revolutionary and post-revolutionary Egypt. This extract finds Paulo addressing his much-abused cat, Atrees.
The terms naqib, usra and shu’ba are jargon from the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal organization. A naqib is the head or “captain” of an usra (family), a cell of maybe five or six Brothers, which itself belongs to a larger shu’ba, or “branch”.
An extract from novelist and critic Ibrahim Farghali’s Sawiris Prize-winning novel أبناء الجبلاوي (Dar Al Ain, 2009) [The Sons of Gebelawi]. The works of the late Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz have mysteriously vanished from shelves and stores across Cairo and as the government attempts to grapple with the situation, strange rumours begin to spread:
Selections from Mina Nagy’s collection أسبوع الآلام [Passion Week], published in PDF format and available in its entirety here, with cover and layout by Youssef Rakha. As Mina explains in the foreword, the poems follow the pattern of the Coptic liturgy for Passion Week, or Holy Week as it’s otherwise known, hence the headings. The Common Burial Prayer is a mass funeral rite for all those who die during the course of the week. Mina has also published another poetry collection entitled سحر حقيقي (Dar Al Ain, 2011) [A Real Magic] and a short story collection الجندب يلهو حرا في شوارع القاهرة (Dar Kalima, 2013) [The grasshopper frolics free in the streets of Cairo]
Three chapters from the first half of Alaa Khaled‘s meditation on the city of his birth وجوه سكندرية (Dar El Shorouk, 2012) [Alexandrian Faces]. One of the most important figures in the development of the prose poem in Egypt he has written six poetry collections, the first published in 1990 and the most recent in 2012, as well as five collections of prose (including this book) and one novel, ألم خفيف كريشة طائر ينتقل بهدوء من مكان لآخر (Dar Al Shorouk, 2009) [A faint pain like a bird’s feather moving gently from place to place]. He is the co-founder and editor of أمكنة [Places], an independent literary magazine issued out of Alexandria and concerned with place and location, which was started in 1990 by Khaled, his wife Salwa Rashad and Mohab Nasr.
An excerpt from Muhamed Abdel Nabi’s very beautiful, moving and clever debut novel رجوع الشيخ (Rawafid, 2012) [The Return of the Sheikh], which was longlisted for the 2013 IPAF. Muhamed has three short story collections to his name, وردة للخونة (General Authority for Cultural Palaces, 2003) [A Rose for the Traitors], شبح أنطون تشيخوف (First Edition: Dar Fikra, 2008; Second Edition: General Egyptian Book Organization, 2012) [The Ghost of Anton Chekhov], which won the 2010 Sawiris Award for short stories by a young writer–with the title story translated here by Anna Swank–and most recently, كما يذهب السيل بقرية نائمة (Merit, 2013) [As the Flood Sweeps Away a Sleeping Village]. Meanwhile, بعد أن يخرج الأمير للصيد (Merit, 2007) [After the Prince Goes Out to Hunt], is a set of seven separate but interrelated texts. And then as if all that isn’t enough he’s a prolific translator from English to Arabic.
An excerpt from الخالق (Kotob Khan, 2013) [The Creator], a novel by Egyptian poet, translator and novelist Ahmed Shafie. The excerpt is in fact a string of passages from the first half of this complex, playful novel; one thread out of many introducing the central story , which is the creation of a city of wonders, populated with automata and equipped with buildings and streets that pop up and down and alter their layout, all located in some unnamed emirate and designed by legendary Japanese architect, Haturi Masanari. Ahmed lives and works in Muscat and has several publications to his name including a couple of poetry collections–وقصائد أخرى (Dar Al Nahda, 2012) [And Other Poems] and طريق جانبي ينتهي بنافورة [A Side Street Ending in a Fountain]–and a novel, رحلة سوسو (General Authority for Cultural Palaces, 2005) [Sousou’s Journey]. He has at least two blogs, here and here.
These three poems by Yasser are from the collection جولة ليلية (Dar Merit, 2009) [Night Tour]. The first of these poems, Night Tour, has been translated by Youssef Rakha here. The alketaba.com website has recently brought out an excellent review of Yasser’s work and life in a “special file” with superb contributions by friends, contemporaries and young ‘uns. Yasser recently won the Sawiris Short-Story Prize for his collection يونس في احشاء الحوت (Kotob Khan, 2011) [Jonah in the Belly of the Whale] and an excellent new collection is forthcoming from the same publisher: في الإقامة والترحال: قصص وحكايات (Kotob Khan, 2014) [Settling Down and Setting Out: Stories and Tales].