Essays and Features

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

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
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
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.  

Leila Slimani: Demolishing Barriers with Literature and Francophone Values

Naomi Pham

Beyond her award-winning novels, the public knows Moroccan-French novelist Leila Slimani for her advocacy of francophone values, promoting the French language, a culture of diversity and openness, as well as for her support for women’s rights. During the French presidential elections, Ms. Slimani  accompanied President Emmanuel Macron in his visit to Morocco, encouraging Moroccan-French citizens to vote for him against the right-wing and ethnocentric Marine Le Pen. According to press reports, the French President initially wanted to appoint Slimani as Minister of Culture, but she declined. So he appointed her as his personal representative of francophone affairs.


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