Essays and Features

The Veiling of the City

By 
Muhammad Ali Atassi

Many visitors to Damascus today are amazed to see how the practice of veiling has become so widespread, especially when compared to twenty or thirty years ago. 

Many visitors to Damascus today are amazed to see how the practice of veiling has become so widespread, especially when compared to twenty or thirty years ago. It is as if the veil has imprinted the Syrian capital with its image. This is the case in the city’s streets and markets, its restaurants and parks, its schools and universities, its public offices and private companies, not to mention the homes that confine women within their walls in the name of the veil.

I Mourn my Wife and Friend, Samira Chalala

By 
Elie Chalala

During the past 16 years of Al Jadid, I have not once allowed the personal to intrude upon the pages of this magazine.

Right

During the past 16 years of Al Jadid, I have not once allowed the personal to intrude upon the pages of this magazine.  However, I am making an exception to reflect on the loss of my wife, Samira Chalala, who was killed as she was crossing the street on her way home from work on February 24th, 2010.

The New Christian Question

By 
Michael Teague

The December 2009 issue of Qantara, the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe’s magazine of Arab culture, is devoted almost exclusively to a reassessment of the current predicament of Christians in the Arab world. Whereas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Christians found themselves at the forefront of the Arab nationalist movement and were instrumental in helping significant portions of the Arab world to appropriate and benefit from modern political, cultural and artistic developments, today the case could not be more different.

Remembering Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir

By 
Lisa Suhair Majaj

Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir, who passed away within weeks of each other last spring,

Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir, who passed away within weeks of each other last spring, left behind legacies of dedication and intellectual achievement that will be long remembered. As scholars and writers of distinction, each made a significant impact on the field of Arab-American studies. And each offered inspiring visions of what Arab America has offered and what it might become. 

“Imaginary Homelands”—Lebanese American Prose

By 
Evelyn Shakir

I take my title from an essay by Salman Rushdie, in which he reflects on the need many expatriates, exiles, and just plain emigrants feel to look over their shoulder at the land that they have left behind and that now seems lost to them. And, if they’re writers, to try to recreate it in the literature they produce. But Rushdie issues a warning:  “We will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost.” Instead, “we will create fictions, not actual cities or villages but invisible ones, imaginary homelands.”

I take my title from an essay by Salman Rushdie, in which he reflects on the need many expatriates, exiles, and just plain emigrants feel to look over their shoulder at the land that they have left behind and that now seems lost to them. And, if they’re writers, to try to recreate it in the literature they produce.

The Passing of a Great Syrian Writer: Ilfat Idilbi, 1912-2007

By 
Simone Fattal

It was on a day, much like today (Saturday, June 30), the day of the Gay Pride Parade in Paris, that I met my friend, the writer Ilfat Idilbi, for lunch at Les Deux Magots a few years ago. I had not realized that the Gay Pride Parade would be taking place when I’d first proposed that date for our meeting – I dreaded crowds and noise, both things that did not bother Ilfat Idilbi in the least. As soon as we settled on the terrace, the parade floats began turning down Boulevard St. Germain.

It was on a day, much like today (Saturday, June 30), the day of the Gay Pride Parade in Paris, that I met my friend, the writer Ilfat Idilbi, for lunch at Les Deux Magots a few years ago. I had not realized that the Gay Pride Parade would be taking place when I’d first proposed that date for our meeting – I dreaded crowds and noise, both things that did not bother Ilfat Idilbi in the least. As soon as we settled on the terrace, the parade floats began turning down Boulevard St. Germain.

How Painting Came East

By 
Charbel Dagher

A painting, in its most basic form, is a piece of colored canvas pulled taut across a wooden frame. The history of canvas painting has yet to be told, for while we can identify the beginnings of painting in the Italian Renaissance, we still do not have an account for its spread to studios, homes, and various other venues where it is housed around the world.  Indeed, the painted canvas has spread among so many cultures and peoples that, today, it has come to represent the most widely accepted understanding of painting.

A Prize to Celebrate: Abdellatif Laabi Wins 2009 Goncourt Literary Prize for Poetry

By 
Elie Chalala

Literary prizes in the Arab world are hardly occasions for celebration. With the exception of the Sultan Bin al-Owais Award, a good number of literary awards have been greeted with cynicism and skepticism. Many of the prizes are tainted by Gulf or state money and sponsorship, as well as by scandals. Criticism has been directed towards the criteria for selecting candidates, the qualifications of the administrators of the prizes,

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