Prize and Prejudice: When an Egyptian Novelist Wins Qatara


“Those who don’t like Katara can start a prize like it in Egypt.”

Thus the Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid, one of five finalists to receive US $60,000 each in the first round of the Katara Prize for the Arabic Novel, speaking to the television anchor Gaber Al-Qarmouti live last week.

A glib remark, for oil-rich Qatar’s foray into supporting literature is worth US $750,000 in total. A mere pittance this may be in the grander scheme of Qatari spending. But were it available to grant-making institutions in Egypt, the sum would be enough for 100 financially viable awards.

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The World According to Mohammed Abouelleil: Selected Photos

​Pieces of a Girl: An Erotic Ramble by Jennifer Coard

From the story

From the story “Aka Ana” by Antoine D’Agata, 2007. Source:


A little girl walking through the woods on her way to her best friend’s house finds a small piece of paper. It is shiny and colorful, ripped from a magazine no doubt, with ragged edges and folded into halves – twice. I still don’t know what makes the little girl take that loose piece of paper into her hands. It is litter, really. But it will never be far from her for the next decade. From that day, she keeps it. Folded as she found it. She gently places it between the pages of The Little Prince or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, perhaps Watership Down. Now and again she takes it out and unfolds it. Over the years, the piece of paper becomes worn and soft, as satin silk or lambskin chamois. Whitened, thin and frayed at the folds until it is too delicate to even open. But the girl keeps it. It has become her confidante.

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كارول صنصور: يعلن الكاهن دفن المسيح

By Nikos Economopoulos. Bethlehem, Christian Orthodox wedding. Source:

By Nikos Economopoulos. Bethlehem, Christian Orthodox wedding. Source:

كنت طلبت من صديقتي المؤمنة اصطحابي إلى قداس دفن المسيح. لم أدخل الكنيسة لحضور قداس إرادياً منذ زمن بعيد. أصعد جنبها في سيارة “الأنروا” التي أسميها الدبابة لكبر حجمها. تقودنا مسرعة إلى حضرة الرب.

كأن الوقت تسمّر. وجوه العجائز نفسها تبحلق في الداخل والخارج، تعطي إشارة القبول أو الرفض. نجلس في مقاعدنا وتبدأ راهبة الوردية بصلوات ما قبل القداس ليكف الناس عن الثرثرة. كما قبل ثلاثين عاماً، أخاف الراهبات، “راهبات الوردية” خاصة. فأنت لا تعلم متى ستفقد واحدة منهن عقلها لتصفع أحدهم كفاً بلا إحم ولا دستور.

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Los Angeles Review of Books Essay

ISIS, Hollywood, Islam by Youssef Rakha: March 28th, 2015


I AM a horror film connoisseur. Monsters and murders speak to my understanding of the human condition. The macabre and the moribund reflect my interest in extremes. Even torture inspires me, not as a pastime (Hostel) or a punishment (Se7en), but through and beyond these and other nightmares as an analogy for mortality, for the limit both of life and of meaning.

That is why I sat through A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross with bated breath:

A quiet shore somewhere on the North African coast. A group of men are being marched to the edge of the lapping water by figures of such stature they make them look like dwarfs. As it advances the checkered line appears and disappears in flashes, cutting through a scenic frame of the sea. Their hands tied behind their backs, the condemned are orange-clad, Guantanamo-style, while the masked giants towering above them are all in black except for the one in the middle, also masked. He is the Chorus in this weird travesty of Sophocles.

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أحمد الحادقة: كلهم أحد

Bieke Depoorter. EGYPT. Cairo. 2012. From the series "In Between". Source:

Bieke Depoorter. Cairo. 2012. From the series “In Between”. Source:

أن تجلس في هذه البقعة، نعم هي ليست خارج المدينة، لكن أن تجلس فيها وترى السيارات عن بُعد، ليس من أعلى مكعب كملايين المكعبات لكن من أُفُق  السيارات نفسها، إحساس جديد في هذه المدينة. أن تشعر أن نسبة من يراقبونك أقل من المعتاد ولو لفترة وجيزة، إحساس طالما افتقدته في المدينة المخصية هذه: مدينة بلا خصوصية على الإطلاق.

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