Books

Reconstructing the Disastrous History of the Lebanese Famine

By Angele Ellis

“Safer Barlik,”—the phrase for the Famine— translated as “The Exile” in a 1967 Lebanese feature film traces its roots to the longtime practice of abducting and pressing men in Lebanon, then part of Greater Syria, into Ottoman slave labor gangs. (Safer means voyage; Barlik, Anatolia in Turkish Asia Minor.) Being pressed into these gangs proved tantamount to receiving a death sentence; even if a laborer survived his harsh work term, his masters would release him into the Anatolian wilderness with no resources to return home. Farshee’s research leads him to estimate that only three percent ever did make it back.

As 20th Century Begins, British ‘Orientalism’ Tool of Colonialism

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By D.W. Aossey

Long writes the book in a scholarly manner, but redeems it with a depth of insight and information on these fascinating personalities at a very important time in Middle Eastern history. Certainly, most will find “Reading Arabia” worth a look.

Reading Arabia: British Orientalism in the Age of Mass Publication 1880 –1930
By Andrew C. Long
Syracuse University Press, 2014. 264 pp.

Countering the Paradigm of Arab Othering Through Art

By Rebecca Joubin

Technology has played the muse for a new generation of Arab artists who came of age during a time of vast expansion in the Internet, satellite television, and digital technology. The exciting new book, “Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mixed Media Art: View from Inside” showcases the diverse talents of 49 of the leading artists from thirteen different Arab countries. The book gives voice to individuals who otherwise might not be heard in the Western World. 

Orientalism’s Children: “Voices from the Threshold”

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By Angele Ellis

Nearly 11 years ago, an automobile accident on a dusty Jordanian road cut Susan Atefat-Peckham’s life and work short. The Iranian American poet, memoirist and Full bright Scholar now takes her rightful place among the likes of Gregorgy Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa with her “Talking Through the Door.” The anthology transports readers to various eras and exotic locales, going back to Ibn Hazm’s 10th-century Cordoba, the Lebanon of World War I, pre-revolutionary Iran as well as 1950s and 60s Ohio. “Readers will find that these works carry with them a power and promise so life-affirming that Lisa Suhair Majaj describes them as ‘sustenance.’”

Talking Through the Door: An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern American Writing
Edited by Susan Atefat-Peckham
With a Foreword by Lisa SuheirMajaj
Syracuse University Press, 2014, pp.  244

The Ripple Effect of the 'Eclipse' of Iraqi Sunnis

By Lynne Rogers

Only four years after its publication and a drastically changed landscape, reading Deborah Amos’ “Eclipse of the Sunnis, Power, Exile and Upheaval in the Middle East,” will give readers a chilling sense of futility towards the impending signs of violence that politicians either conveniently overlooked or malevolently exaggerated to their advantage.   With the American Occupation of Iraq, Amos, an award winning journalist, has set off to record the “the mass departure” of Iraqis to Damascus, Amman and Beirut.

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