Cairo by Piri Reis, 16th century. Source: Wikipedia

Cairo’s coolest cosmopolitan hotel. General Manager: Youssef Rakha.


Arabic calligraphy by Mahmud Atef

Arabic language Arab Spring art Beirut black and white Cairo death Egypt Fiction History Islam literature love Muslim Novel Poetry Revolution

رواية سفر شعر شمس ضحك غرام قصة قصيرة قصيدة نثر قلب قهوة كتابة مدينة مرض مطر موت موسيقى نص نوم

Two Ways into Bara, by Zahreddine: Speaker of the Baran Tribe


Go to the street, ask for anything, it will be given to you.

BARA will have seized the monarchies and set their palaces ablaze.

There is a fellow population suffering.

To have lived it, later generations will assume it caused great conflict of the heart.

But, take my trials, they are too good for me.

Remember, the videos passed around.

am guilty.

There is nothing left to say.

White sheets compound the pavement.

Chemicals in the territory.

The revolution is a farce.

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دينا ربيع: على أعقابهم ينكصون

Shakir Hassan Al Said, The Victorious, 1983. Source: barjeelartfoundation.org

البيت شاجٍ. أهله أطفال لا يلعبون، وشباب لا يعرفون شقوة الحب ولا سكرته، وعجائز جرت أعمارهنّ إكسبريسَ في بلاد تصرف حكوماتها على البنية التّحتيّة ما يحفظ ماء الوجوه.
على الحوائط ذكريات عنف وزعيق ونحيب وسكّين يتبادلها طرفا خناقة هزليّة. يعرف الطّرفان والشّاهدون والحوائط وكرسيّ الصّالون الذي يهامس أخاه بعد أن ينام ساكنو البيت أن أحدهما لن يذبح الآخر بها، لأنّ ليلة كهذه لا تخلص إلى نهاية كتلك، ولا تحسن سكّين المطبخ القِتلة، غير أنّهما يطيلان التّناوش بها ليزيدا على المشهد القبيح قبحا، ويخرّبا أعصاب الصّغار أبدا. 

استمر في القراءة

Ulayya bint al-Mahdi’s Epigram by Yasmine Seale

Gustav Klimt, Expectation, 1905. Source: gustav-klimt.com

To love two people is to have it 

coming: body nailed to beams,


But loving one is like observing


I held out until fever 

broke me. 

How long can grass

brave fire?

If I did not have hope

that my heart’s master’s

heart might bend to mine, 

I would be stranded, no

closer to gate than home.


ست قصائد لسُكَينة حبيب الله

From the Aperture Foundation’s Paul Strand Book by Joel Meyerowitz. Source: studiobaer.com


عــشـ..شـ.. ــشـجرة
بدوري حملتُ قَشّاً
قشّاً كثيراً
ومضيتُ أبحثُ عن شجرة أبني عليها عُشِّي
إلا أني لم أجد.
بالقشِّ الذي التقطتُ
حشوتُ صدري
اخترتُ حقلا،
ووقفتُ منتصبةً عليها.


استمر في القراءة

Robin Moger Does Sukaina Habiballah

From the Aperture Foundation’s Paul Strand Book by Joel Meyerowitz. Source: studiobaer.com

nes t ree

in turn I bore straw

much straw and went

in search of a tree to make

my nest but a tree I did not find 

and with the straw I’d gleaned I packed

my chest I picked a field and I stood upright there 


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Belal Hosni: Everyday Horses/Gregory Djanikian

Alexandria, 1953


You could think of sunlight

Glancing off the minarets,

You could think of guavas and figs

And the whole marketplace filled

With the sumptuous din of haggling,

But you could not think of Alexandria

Without the sea, or the sea,

Turquoise and shimmering, without

The white city rising before it.


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Matthew Chovanec: On Its Own Fucked-up Terrain

Matthew Chovanec reviews Yasser Abdel Hafez’s The Book of Safety, for which Robin Moger won the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize in 2017

Rohan Daniel Eason (copyright One Peace Books), from a children’s illustrated Kafka. Source: wired.com

Arabic novels are so frequently described as Kafkaesque or Orwellian that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the two authors were themselves Arab. It is a small wonder that noone has yet tried to uncover their secret Arab origins by etymologizing their names (قفقاء and الروال) in the way that the Turks have for Shakespeare. It is true that both of their names have become literary shorthand for a type of writing dealing with dystopia, oppressive bureaucracies, and the horrors of totalitarian society. It is also true that Arab societies have continued unabated to live through dystopias, oppressive bureaucracies, and the horrors of totalitarian society. But the label flattens out what is particular and new about so much excellent Arabic writing, and suggests that everything you need to know about the daily experience of living in a dysfunctional and cruel system can be captured by the term  “nightmarish”.

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