Essays and Features

Ghada Samman: A Writer of Many Layers

By 
Pauline Homsi Vinson

Ghada Samman is a prolific writer who has produced over 40 works in a variety of genres, including journalism, poetry, short stories, and the novel. Outspoken, innovative, and provocative, Samman is a highly respected if sometimes controversial writer in the Arab world who is becoming increasingly well known internationally; several of her works have been translated from Arabic into languages such as English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Polish, German, Japanese, and Farsi.

‘War Photographer’—Chasing Peace through Horrors

By 
Judith Gabriel

Journalists who cover war are often accused of being “adrenaline junkies,” parachuting into conflict zones as they chase their next high, bouncing from one global hot spot to another. Depicted as heartless voyeurs, they aim their cold zoom lenses at the faces of suffering humanity. Their saving grace is that they alone can capture images capable of shocking an indifferent world into responding.

Passion for Modernizing and Popularizing Instrumental Arab Music

By 
Sami Asmar

In 1862, five Russian musicians in St. Petersburg (Borodin, Cui, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov) formed the “Gang of Five,” a group whose aim was to create authentically Russian music as opposed to the prevalent Western style championed by Tchaikovsky. A century later, five Lebanese musicians modeled themselves after the Russian group and formed their own “Gang of Five” with the mission of creating authentically Lebanese music.

The Arab Novel: Visions of Social Reality

By 
Andrea Shalal-Esa

Heads nodded in agreement, but the mood was somber. Halim Barakat had just kicked off a two-day conference on the Arab novel by noting that more than 100 Arabic novels had been translated into English. Alas, he said, they were seldom reviewed in literary journals, nor could you easily find them in your neighborhood bookstore.

Heads nodded in agreement, but the mood was somber. Halim Barakat had just kicked off a two-day conference on the Arab novel by noting that more than 100 Arabic novels had been translated into English. Alas, he said, they were seldom reviewed in literary journals, nor could you easily find them in your neighborhood bookstore.

Children of Our Alley: Mahfouz Award Fuels Schism in Egyptian Literary Field

By 
Samia Mehrez

In 1959, Naguib Mahfouz published his controversial novel " Awlad Haratina " (Children of Our Alley) on the pages of the Egyptian daily paper Al Ahram. This work represented a clear departure from the historical and realistic modes that dominated Mahfouz's earlier work until the completion of his "Trilogy" on the eve of the 1952 revolution in Egypt . " Awlad Haratina " came after seven years of literary silence most uncharacteristic of the disciplined and prolific Mahfouz.

Issam Mahfouz (1939-2006): Recalling Poet, Playwright, Critic as the Attractive Modernist

By 
Mohammad Dakroub

Mahfouz wrote 45 books throughout his life, containing diverse artistic and cultural wealth within those works. Mahfouz’s writings displayed certain characteristic features which distinguish this comprehensive intellectual, observer, and visionary who expressed in his books an intellectual, modernist, and progressive position -- sometimes firm, sometimes flexible.

 

Even in his early writings, which were mainly poems, Issam Mahfouz used to “create a sublime and penetrating theater of dialogue,” says Lebanese poet Shawqi abi-Shaqra about his friend. It is a disservice to Mahfouz to sum up his contributions in generalities. This creative artist made his unique and visionary contributions in different fields: first, in modern poetry; then in theater, where his basic and most notable contributions lie, as well as in literary studies, criticism, and research.

Mahfouz Surveys 'Fertile Soil' of Future: Optimism Survives Literary, Bodily Blow

By 
Al Jadid Staff

The immediate reaction to awarding Naguib Mahfouz the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 was mixed among some Arab intellectuals. Some attribute this to the tarnished image of the Nobel Committee, which earlier awarded the Peace Price to the Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin and to the Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat for their role in concluding the first peace treaty between the Jewish state and an Arab country. Neither winner enjoyed much sympathy among Arab intellectuals.

Edwar al-Kharrat and the Modernist Revolution in the Egyptian Novel

By 
Amal Amireh

Al-Kharrat was born in 1926 in Alexandria to a Coptic Christian family.  At age 17 he became the household’s sole breadwinner following the death of his father, who was the owner of a small business. Despite his heavy responsibilities, al-Kharrat successfully completed a degree in law from Alexandria University in 1946. Two years later he was thrown in jail for belonging to a left-wing political group. He was released in 1950. 

Egypt’s cultural circles have recently celebrated one of the most important writers in the Arab world, Edwar al-Kharrat, who turned 70 earlier this year. This celebration coincided with the publication of al-Kharrat’s latest book, entitled “Muhajamat al-Mustaheel” (Attacking the Impossible), and with his winning the prize of Sultan Al-Oweiss.

Entering its 11th Year: Al Jadid Magazine Begins Second Decade Quality – Coverage, and Dynamic Change

By 
Elie Chalala

With this double issue (nos. 50/51) Al Jadid magazine enters its 11th year. During the past decade, we have rarely talked about ourselves, our pleasures or pains, neither self-congratulatory nor inviting pity. This has included not talking about our financial difficulties as well as the acclaim Al Jadid has received, including letters of support, articles and reviews written about Al Jadid in national and international magazines and newspapers, as well as professional, academic and mainstream books from major publishers.

Assia Djebar Elected to French Academy: Immortal Sycophant or Courageous Humanist?

By 
Lynne Rogers

Assia Djebar has broken new ground as she is the first Muslim North African woman to become an "immortal" or life-long member of the prestigious French Academy, founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of King Louis XIII "to protect and monitor the French Language."

Assia Djebar has broken new ground as she is the first Muslim North African woman to become an "immortal" or life-long member of the prestigious French Academy, founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of King Louis XIII "to protect and monitor the French Language."

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