Reblogged from qisasukhra, translated by Robin Moger
Another extract from Youssef Rakha’s باولو [Paulo], recently acquired by Dar Al-Saqi, the second novel in a planned trilogy and the sequel to التماسيح (Dar Al-Saqi, 2012) [The Crocodiles]. The novel takes the form of fifty nine sequential blog entries numbered in reverse (i.e. starting with 59 and ending on 1), authored by the eponymous Paulo, one of the central characters from The Crocodiles, now an ex-poet, a figure on the independent cultural scene, a revolutionary and a covert operative for the shadowy Wadie Bey, who narrates his adventures in revolutionary and post-revolutionary Egypt. This extract finds Paulo addressing his much-abused cat, Atrees.
The terms naqib, usra and shu’ba are jargon from the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal organization. A naqib is the head or “captain” of an usra (family), a cell of maybe five or six Brothers, which itself belongs to a larger shu’ba, or “branch”.
Once, long ago, my mother fled a genocide (the Al Anfal campaign). She fled on foot over massive Kurdish mountains carrying me on her back and my little brother in her stomach.
My grandparents, Kurdish villagers/farmers, were faced with brutal oppression. They were forced into the Kurdish struggle, taking up arms to resist the annihilation of their identity. For 50 years they lived with war and the struggle of the Kurds. My grandfather Selman Mahmod Bamernî became a peshmerga at an early age. He was involved in many bloody battles and lost many comrades in the process. He was seriously injured twice, and twice placed in Iraqi prisons. He was often separated from his family, once for over five years, so long that, when he came back, his youngest children did not recognize their own father. He has devoted his life to the Kurdish struggle. A humble person with honor, compassion and an absolutely wonderful sense of humor. He has made many laugh heartily in his day.
كم صار صعباً، كم صار صعباً كل شيء
كان السكين حاداً جداً هذه المرة.
كان لابد أن أنتبه أني أقشر يدك الصغيرة
بدلًا من البرتقال.
Cairo International Film Festival Essay
The golden age of Egyptian cinema survived the fall of the monarchy, the departure of the British, the nationalization of the Suez Canal, and three wars with Israel — but not Cold War-era capitalism.
“Golden age” in this context is of course an amorphous term, but it does point to a palpable phenomenon which, in the form of roll film, remains testable for efficacy. Over roughly three decades from the beginning of 1940s to the end of the 1960s, a certain balance of quantity and quality was maintained. Art remained a meaningful business proposition even after capital was monopolized by the state and a centralized economy established.
Insert Title Here, by Our Arab Author, translated by So-and-so. Such-and-such publisher. $12.99.
What do you know about how people live in Cairo or Beirut or Riyadh? What bearing does such information have upon your life? We in the West hear about the Middle East all the time, but for most of us it remains unknown and unknowable. More complicated still is that, as I learnt at the weekend, forms like the novel and short story were alien to Arabic culture before the first decade of the 20th century: the genres are, themselves, imports.
“I am not a photographer,” says the Italy-based Ornella Mignella, known on Instagram as @miss_golightly_the_cat and otherwise very reticent about herself. “Photography is my therapist. It helps me to accept myself and what happens to me. Acceptance is not resignation but a form of consciousness raising, an instantaneous clarity of thought captured in a picture. I use my iPhone 5 and some apps to edit my photos.”
Peter never came back
I play the role of Wendy, who waits for Peter Pan until her death. She lies on the floor, we don’t know if she tries to fly to reach Peter or dies of missing him. Her death is every existential failure, it is my generation’s failure, our broken dreams. Peter is everything we can’t reach, something we lost forever.
We only know that he flew away with Tinker Bell. Wendy flew away too.