Robert Neuwirth: The Third Way

Originally posted on Grand Hotel Abyss

From "The Silver Box", 2014. By Youssef Rakha

From “The Silver Box”, 2014. By Youssef Rakha

Nothing’s truer than fiction, and the crazier the fiction, the closer to truth it sometimes is.

The Book of the Sultan’s Seal, by Youssef Rakha (published in Egypt in early 2011, just after the Arab Spring brought down the Mubarak regime, and released in English this month by Interlink Books) is a fever journey through the streets of Cairo, with mad detours into the history of the Ottoman Empire, the grand heritage of Arab literature, and the nature of failed relationships. At once a love story (Mustafa Nayif Çorbacı leaves his wife and finds true love – and great sex, though it might only be in his mind – in the following 3 weeks) and a story of crackpot religious fervor (during the same period, Çorbacı, a Western-educated quasi-believer – the book never has him praying or embracing any particular religious positions – has a series of dreams and visions and transforms himself into a zombie with the mission of reconstituting the Ottoman caliphate), this is a work of zealotry that offers a vision of Islam that is broad and inclusive and lusty and fun.

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صلاح باديس: منحنية تفتح مطاريتها، منحنية في صف الملابس

Illuminated Qajar manuscript, 1824. Source:

Illuminated Qajar manuscript, 1824. Source:

يقيس الزمن، بآثار السنوات على مؤخرتها. منذ أن رآها مشدودة داخل الجينز في قاعة المُحاضرات بالجامعة. عارية ذات ظهيرة مُمطرة داخل نفس القاعة. سمراء، تحت أشعة شمسٍ، سُمح  لها بدخول مسبحٍ خاص. يقيس الزمن ويُمرّر يده. صارت أكبر، تُشبه قاعدة تمثال، أو وسادة منفوخة. لكنّه ظلّ مشدوداً كحمار يتبع جزرة. رآها تُحيط بها الممرضات ليخرُج طفلٌ كأنه دجاجة بلا ريش. مُنحنية تفتح مطاريتها قبل أن تخرج من السيّارة. تنحني لتقفل الحزام على الرضيع في السيّارة قبل الانطلاق للحاضنة. مُنحنية في صف الملابس الداخلية بالمركز التجاري. يحملُ الطفل لينام ثم يعود ليحملها، وسط الإيلاج يُعاين نسيج الجِلد، عينه تحسُب الترهلاّت الرقيقة، الكدمات الزرقاء التي خلّفها مروره آخر مرّة… صارت أكبر يقول لنفسه، وهو يُخلّف كدمات جديدة. يجلسُ في السيّارة، بعد العمل، ينتظرُها. يراقب بطنه المُندلقة فوق حزام المقعد. من آخر الشارع تظهر، نفس المِشية مُنذ عشر سنوات. مُنذ أن كان يُمازحها حول مؤخرتها وكوب القهوة في يدها: لا تُحركيها، نشربها مُرّة.

مينا ناجي: كل الأنواع

Amy Leibrand. Bursting the Bounds of (Mobile) Photography

Amy Leibrand. Bursting the Bounds of (Mobile) Photography

جربنا كل أنواع الكليشيه، استمنينا كل أنواع الاستنماءات، قمنا بثورة وهتفنا بروح الوطن الغالي، رحّبنا بكل أشكال البذاءة وكل ضروب الحزن والبؤس حتي كلح جلدنا وأصبحنا نجري من التعاسة بالمشوار، كتبنا روايات عن علاقاتنا الفاشلة وبكينا علي أشباهنا من كل صنف، قتلنا الأب وأحييناه ووضعناه في النيش، جربنا علي الأقل عشرة أنواع من مضاد الاكتئاب ورفضنا بعنف مضادات الذهان، تذاكينا وتعالينا وتصرفنا كأننا أشخاص بالغون. كل خرائك لا يروق لي. كل هدف ليس في موضعه، بل مجاور تماماً للـ لا-هدف في القمامة. حتى الموت لم نعد نستفيد منه في شيء.

The Boy Jihadi: Guernica Magazine Short story

Paolo Pellegrin. Islamic Jihad militants at night in a safe house in Gaza city. Gaza 2014. Source:

And that He might know the hypocrites, unto whom it was said: Come, fight in the way of Allah, or defend yourselves. They answered: If we knew aught of fighting we would follow you. On that day they were nearer disbelief than faith…—Surat At Tawbah, Quran, 3:167

At first the boy jihadi showed up just once. Trailing a bright-red wheelbarrow with a formless load wrapped in a pillowcase inside it, he appeared at the threshold of our apartment building.

A slight figure, almost as short and thin as the ancient kalashnikov it cradled—and immediately we were incensed. How dare such a thing as this invade the living space of two dozen upstanding families, good citizens, and good Muslims, the pride and joy of their third-world country’s bourgeoisie? He wore a Pathan salwar kameezwith a camo jacket on top and a tight white turban wrapped like a cup, one loose fold coming down alongside his ponytail. We could tell by his beard that he was at most fourteen. The unshaved wisps wanted to hang down from his chin, but they were so soft and sparse all they could do was curl upward.

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Lots of Commas and Etceteras Lying about the Hallway: Four Poems by Julian Gallo

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset


A Sort Of Mirage

Shadows in ink. 

On such evenings I’m

too tired to applaud the maestro

but a fresh maté soothes nevertheless. 

War has not been declared

and there is not one fraction

of my life left behind. 

There are lots of commas

and etceteras lying about the hallway

waiting to be used, waiting to be set free

to dance across the page.

They seem to comfort each other

after these outbursts;

a sort of mirage

these words I cannot grasp


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The Second Life of Lewis Nawa: A Review of Ebola ’76 by Amir Tag Elsir

Health care workers, wearing protective suits, leave a high-risk area at the French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders) Elwa hospital on August 30, 2014 in Monrovia. Liberia has been hardest-hit by the Ebola virus raging through west Africa, with 624 deaths and 1,082 cases since the start of the year. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET        (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Health care workers on August 30, 2014 in Liberia. AFP photo by Dominique Faget, Getty Images

Nourhan Tewfik reviews Ebola ’76 by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby

As Lewis entered, Ebola was all around. It hovered inches from him, anticipating its moment to pounce. The virus had already claimed the bodies of most of the people he encountered there. It coursed through the blood of the old, sunken-cheeked beggar woman as she silently extended her hand towards Lewis to receive his half franc. It had infiltrated the veins of the stern guard, who now leant against his battered old rifle, his gaze flitting between the visitors as they came and went through the main gates. It inhabited the many mourners who passed before Lewis’s distracted gaze. Even as he knelt in tears beside the grave of his lover, who had died just two days previously, the virus was there, lurking in her corpse beneath the soil.

In his short novel Ebola ‘76, a Darf Publishers title translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby, the Sudanese writer Amir Tag Elsir moulds a fictionalised account of the 1976 Ebola outbreak in South Sudan and Congo.

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Killed: Postcards from Palestine by Carol Sansour


Killed by the silence 
Killed by the lies 
Killed waiting 
Killed wanting 
Killed fighting 
Killed negotiating 
Killed hungry 
Killed cold 
Killed lonely 
Killed in a group 
Killed in the light 
Killed in the dark 
Killed standing 
Killed sleeping 
Killed thinking
Killed dreaming 
Killed by the killer and the viewer and the god 
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