Essays and Features

For a Friend Sorely Missed

Moayyad al-Rawi (1939-2015)
By 
Elie Chalala


This brief column can only begin to do justice to Iraqi poet and critic Moayyad al-Rawi. A longer tribute will appear in Al Jadid’s next issue later this year (Vol. 23, No. 77, 2019).

Moayyad, who died in 2015, fled the Iraqi dictatorship in 1970 for Lebanon, making it his first stop in a life in exile; it is there I met him. Imprisonment and repression following the 1963 Baathist coup forced him to leave Baghdad and Kirkuk, which he loved, and which figured prominently in his writings.

Uninterrupted Fugue: Uprootedness in Kamal Boullata’s Work

By Gérard Xuriguera

Contemporary artists adhering to Constructivism were not solely content with respecting the orthodoxy of its ethic. From Malevitch to Mondrian through the Bauhaus and up to this day, the structural unfolding of this art of simplification and of exactitude has at times been refined, at other times made more complex; all along, it continued to explore different venues that retraced  the founding precepts without relinquishing its rigor.

Ali al-Shawk in the Eyes of One Acquaintance

By 
Mahmoud Saeed


Ali al-Shawk’s death leaves an empty space that no one can fill. He was prolific, thoughtful, articulate, and of high manners. Personally, I thought of him as one of the most cultured intellectuals I have met inside or outside of Iraq. His cultural depth owed to the greatness and diversity of his reading, which included his fluent command of English, from which he translated several books.

‘Sexuality in the Arab World’: Book Attempts to Shed Multi-Faceted Light on Subject Long in the Shadows

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
By 
Al Jadid Staff


“Sexuality in the Arab World” has fascinated many Western scholars, though not as many Arabs, mainly for political and cultural reasons. Edited by Samir Khalaf and John Gagnon, this book first appeared in English in 2005 and then was published in Arabic by Dar al-Saqi in 2015, translated by Osama Manzalji. Novelist and critic Mahmoud Houjeiri has reviewed this book in Arabic, a review that offers an Arab perspective which is worthy of sharing and translating. 

Prolific in Exile: An Appreciation of the Life and Work of Ali al-Shawk

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
By 
Al Jadid Staff

A prolific author and reader, Ali al-Shawk embodied scholarship, transforming himself into a veritable encyclopedia of intellectual knowledge. His humility endeared him to his friends and set a worthy example for others. He remains particularly known for being a good listener and for his non-confrontational ways, listening “to you until you finished talking before offering his own opinion,” according to Mahmoud Saeed. His writings encompassed the topics of mathematics, music, painting, literature, etymology, mythology, and science, and he wrote continuously until his death in his London home this year.

New Book Places Famed 20th Century Lebanese Beauty and Unappreciated Intellectual May Ziadeh at Center of Controversy Now as Then

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
By 
Elie Chalala

Twenty-years ago, Al Jadid published “The Victim Of Beauty: Reviving the Literary Legacy of Mai Ziadeh” by Ghada Samman. The issue we tackled then was how Ziadeh's talents and skills were overlooked because of her gender, and even worse, how highlighting her personal life at the expense of her intellect distorted her legacy. One Lebanese critic was emotionally overwhelmed by the recent book, “May: The Nights of Isis Copia” (Dar al-Adab, 2018) by Waciny Laredj, expressing her appreciation for this kind gesture by the Algerian-French novelist and academic toward a fellow “Lebanese.” However, an Egyptian critic takes issue with the new book. The same concerns which fueled early criticism of how Ziadeh was treated did not escape the notice of Sharif al-Shafei's thoughtful essay in Al Modon newspaper.  

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