Front Cover by El Zeft
A woman's voice is a revolution
Photograph by Ahmed HaymanOrder a copy now
Front Cover by El Zeft
A woman's voice is a revolution
Photograph by Ahmed HaymanOrder a copy now
Predrag Matvejević calls the Mediterranean “an intimate sea.” For centuries, determined flows of merchants and immigrants, warriors and crusaders, slaves and pirates, goods and ideas have crisscrossed its waters. Considering the multiplicity and variety of civilizations that look out onto that lake of cultures, a question immediately comes to mind. How did all those people communicate? Historians tell us that a pidgin language, often called lingua franca, first appeared in the eastern Mediterranean around the thirteenth century. Widely used for commerce and diplomacy, it drew its lexicon mainly from Romance languages (lingua franca meaning “Frankish language” in Latin) since the dominant powers in the east after the year 1000 were the Genovese and Venetian trading colonies. This common language later extended throughout much of northern Africa and the western Mediterranean, where its Romance lexicon instinctively adapted to a simplified Arabic syntax. Lingua franca was in such general use among slaves, Barbary Coast pirates and European renegades—the characters who inhabit Massimo Carlotto’s fictional Algiers in this issue—that it came to be used in official records and trade contracts. By the nineteenth century, European settlers and the opening of regular schools brought this once widespread informal jargon to near extinction.
Another name for this Mediterranean vernacular was sabir, a noun that derives from the Latin root sapere, “to know.” This special issue brings into conversation the different dialects, languages, vernaculars of the Mediterranean in order to create a sabir of poetic, fictive, and artistic imagination displaying the plurality of Mediterranean identities. The texts included in the pages that follow do not pretend “to know” the Med, instead they trace the filigree of a sabir which can tell us only indirectly and vaguely what Mediterranean identity is. And if our sabir today succeeds as metaphoric testimony to the use of the ancient vernacular, we should also pay homage to the work done by our many translators, without whom the cornucopia of Mediterranean cultures could not be brought to the attention of an Anglophone public. Navigating and translating have a lot in common.
Not simply a geographical area, “the Mediterranean” also stands for a plurality of representations, distinct ways of seeing, and varied forms of consciousness—hence our title, “Mediterraneans.” The Neapolitan writer Erri De Luca opens our issue by wondering whether “Being Medit” is simply nostalgia turned towards “an unpackaged past”; other writers included in the first section, “genus loci,” reflect on the persistence of Mediterranean roots in spite of the global economy (Serés), migrations (Scego), or wars (Handal and Bartana).
In the second section, “materials of culture,” we present stories and poems that narrate the Mediterranean from the viewpoint of the peripheral, the marginal, and the inconsequential. Here too, as in Fernand Braudel’s seminal The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, the donkey (Sacré) and the olive tree (Elmusa) are the real protagonists of our decentered history. Matvejević traces the many routes of bread and its Levantine legends, while Abu-Hayat’s poem recounts the legendary gift of a land where all things grow.
The stunning photographs by Vanessa Winship bring our attention to focus on the province of Almería, one of the barest landscapes in the Mediterranean, inspired by Juan Goytisolo’s unparalleled prose. Winship’s photographic chronicle then continues eastward to the shores of the Black Sea, that “poor relative of its counterpart, the Mediterranean.”
Our “histories” section tells the adventures of seafarers from the past who braved the sea and its many perils, driven by love (Maalouf’s troubadour), tempted by glory (Adonis’s Hannibal), impelled by greed (Katsaros’s Rimbaud), attracted by freedom (Carlotto’s pirates), or just forced, as the slaves from Barbary, to accompany Castilian conquistadores to the New World (Lalami). They also recount stories of death (Bonaviri) and imprisonment on secluded islands (Ganado).
In our own momentous time, the Arab and Turkish land—with their compelling desire for change and revolution—are remaking Mediterranean history. Their youths take to the streets, swarm squares, fight intifada (Nye), are imprisoned and tortured (Khalifa), but never cease to believe in a better future (Gökçenur). One can easily recognize this burst of rebellion and creative energy in the writers (Lahbibi, Fadel, Kachachi, and Saadawi) who were among this year’s short-listed selections for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), the most prestigious in the Arab world. The IPAF winner, Ahmed Saadawi, reminds us what monsters are bred when great powers lose all reason. Egyptian street art, also on display here, documents that same creativity and urgency on city walls, during and after the 2011 Arab uprisings.
The other great story of the Mediterranean today is found in the tragic waves of migrants, washing from southeast to the northwest. Crossed by thousands of routes and littered with shipwrecks, today’s undocumented Mediterraneans (Ghermandi) denounce the abstract distinctions that once made it possible for the West to justify colonial conquests and capitalistic economies. ID papers and legal fictions become meaningless signifiers of regimes which no longer exist (Mattawa) while feelings of uprootedness and nostalgia for the bled seep through the multicultural societies coming into existence in the Mediterranean north (Sebbar). And yet the Roma keep living their lives, at the margins of the modern Mediterranean, both touched and untouched by history (Trojanow and Muhrbeck).
Finally, the memoir of a Palestinian girl (Barakat), the coming-of-age story of a Greek girl (Sotiropoulos), and the coming-into-language of a woman poet (Elenkova)—each tell us how their protagonists experience exile and the plurality of Mediterranean identity. Kellum’s memoir about her father’s “journey to italy” evokes the ghost of the Grand Tour, the lens through which Northern Europeans traditionally saw and thought they knew the Mediterranean.
Yet if we learn anything from this collection of stories and poems, it is that we cannot know the Mediterranean by reducing it to a single image: its sabir is a vernacular lending itself to many interpretations and forms of knowledge. As Marcello Fois reminds us, it is far too easy to betray Mediterranean identity. Betrayal occurs each time you believe yourself to be exceptionally and uniquely Mediterranean.
Anna Botta and Michel Moushabeck,
for the editors
Introduction, by Anna Botta and Michel Moushabeck
Being Medit, a poem by Erri De Luca,
translated by Jim Hicks
The Country, a story by Francesc SerÃ©s,
translated by Peter Bush
Beit and Liturgy, poems by Nathalie Handal
It's Worthwhile Remaining a Tel Aviv Citizen
on the Bank of the Yarkon River,
a poem by Ortsion Bartana
Riding the Babel on Wheels, an essay by Igiaba Scego,
translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and
Victoria Offredi Poletto
For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings,
three stories by Alex Epstein
MATERIALS OF CULTURE
Story of the Olive Tree, a poem by Sharif S. Elmusa
Looking at a Donkey, poems by James Sacré,
translated by David Ball
Distance, a poem by Maya Abu-Alhayyat,
translated by Fady Joudah
Tempted by Nothing, a poem excerpt by Adonis,
translated by Khaled Mattawa
Love from Afar, a libretto by Amin Maalouf,
translated by Patricia E. Frederick
The Inheritance of Marie Saulnier,
an essay by Laure Katsaros
Photographs, photographs and text by Vanessa Winship
The Story of La Florida, a novel excerpt by Laila Lalami
Cell, a poem by Maria Grech Ganado
The Ringing Bones, a poem by Giuseppe Bonaviri,
translated by Stephen Campiglio
Allah's Christians, a novel excerpt by Massimo Carlotto,
translated by Yvonne Freccero
THE IPAF SHORT LIST
The Journeys of 'A'bdi, known as Son of Hamriya,
a novel excerpt by Abdelrahim Lahbibi,
translated by Mbarek Sryfi
A Rare Blue Bird That Flies with Me,
a novel excerpt by Youssef Fadel,
translated by Charis Bredin
Tashari, a novel excerpt by Inaam Kachachi,
translated by Roger Allen
Frankenstein in Baghdad,
a novel excerpt by Ahmed Saadawi,
translated by Jonathan Wright
HIC ET NUNC
from The Shell, novel excerpts by Moustafa Khalifé,
translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
from Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the
Repatriation: A Libya Memoir, an essay by Khaled Mattawa
Do We Need to Understand, a poem by Gökçenur Ç.
translated by the author and Robyn Marsack
The Old Woman from the Mountains,
a story by Leïla Sebbar, translated by Dawn Fulton
To Netanyahu, a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
Dale, an essay by Ilija Trojanow, translated by Philip Boehm,
with photos by Christian Muhrbeck
The Crossing, a novel excerpt by Gabriella Ghermandi,
translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and
Victoria Offredi Poletto
Radio Street, from a memoir by Ibtisam Barakat
Europe in Patras, a story by Ersi Sotiropoulos,
translated by Evelyn Toynton
The Archeology of a Relationship: Journeying to
Italy with Roberto Rossellini,
an essay by Barbara Kellum
The Unlimiting Infinite, a poem by Marcello Fois,
translated by Alfonso Procaccini
Notes on Contributors
MAYA ABU-ALHAYYAT is a Palestinian writer who was born in 1980 in Lebanon. She has published two collections of poetry, three novels, and four children’s books. Her latest novel, No One Knows Their Blood Type, was published by Dar Al Adab-Lebanon.
ADONIS was born Ali Ahmed Said in Syria, in 1930. Adonis is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Mihyar of Damascus, Transformations of the Lover, and The Blood of Adonis, winner of the Syria-Lebanon Award of the International Poetry Forum. He is also an essayist, an editor of anthologies, a theoretician of poetics, and the translator of several works from French into Arabic. He has taught at the Lebanese University as a professor of Arabic literature, at Damascus University, and at the Sorbonne. He has been a Lebanese citizen since 1961 and currently lives in Paris.
ROGER ALLEN is Professor Emeritus of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics and of Arabic & Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction and translator of contemporary Arabic fiction. His recent translation, Bensalem Himmich’s A Muslim Suicide, won the 2012 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.
DAVID BALL is Professor Emeritus of French and Comparative Literature at Smith College. His most recent book-length translation is Jean Guéhenno’s Diary of the Dark Years 1940-1944. Ball’s Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology 1927-1984 won the MLA prize for outstanding literary translation, and his version of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu is included in the Norton Anthology of Drama. His own poetry has been published in eight chapbooks and many journals.
IBITSAM BARAKAT is a Palestinian-American author, poet, translator, artist and educator. Her memoir, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, won more than 20 awards and honors and has been translated into six languages. Ibtisam is the founder of Write Your Life seminars. She represented Palestine in the World Poetry Conference in Venezuela, 2009, read at the Women Speak International Gathering in 2010, and was a delegate to the third UN conference on ending racism in South Africa. A selection of her poetry has been put to music and has become a permanent addition to the repertoire of the Boston Children’s Chorus.
ORTISON BARTANA has published ten collections of poetry, five collections of short stories, two novels, four books of criticism, and six books of literary research. He has won many awards, including the Prime Minister’s Award, Bernstein Award, Wolff scholarship and Brener Award. He is a professor in the Israel’s Heritage department at the University of Ariel.
GIOVANNA BELLESIA-CONTUZZI is professor of Italian Language and Literature at Smith College. Her literary research has centered on modern Italian women writers and migration studies and the theory and practice of translation. Along with Victoria Offredi Poletto, she has translated Dacia Maraini’s Un clandestine a bordo, short stories, and two novels: Cristina Ali Farah’s Madre piccolo and Gabriella Ghemandi’s Regina di fiori di perle.
PHILIP BOEHM has translated numerous works from German and Polish by writers including Ingeborg Bachmann, Franz Kafka, and Stefan Chwin. For the theater he has written plays such as Mixtitlan, The Death of Atahualpa, and Return of the Bedbug. He has received awards from the American Translators Association, the U.K. Society of Authors, the NEA, PEN America, the Austrian Ministry of Culture, the Mexican-American Fund for Culture, and the Texas Institute of Letters.
GIUSEPPE BONAVIRI was born in Minèo, Sicily, in 1924, earned his medical degree in 1949, and in 1957 moved to Frosinone in the Lazio region of Italy, where he worked as a cardiologist. His first novel, Il sarto della stradalunga, was published in 1954, and he went on to complete more than thirty works of fiction, poetry, and essays. He was considered for the Nobel Prize on more than one occasion, and died in Frosinone in 2009.
CHARIS BREDIN is a PhD student at SOAS, University of London, with a scholarship from the Wolfson Foundation. Her research looks at modern Libyan fiction and in particular how animals are depicted in it. She worked part-time at Banipal for several years. She has translated African Titanics by Abu Bakr Kahal, and co-translated Amir Tag Elsir’s Ebola ‘76, with Emily Danby.
PETER BUSH is a freelance literary translator based in Barcelona. Recent translations include Exiled From Almost Everywhere by Juan Goytisolo, Tyrant Banderas by Ramón del Valle-Inclán and Sketches of Spain by Federico García Lorca from the Spanish, The Body Hunter by Najat El Hachmi, The Sound of One Hand Killing by Teresa Solana, Russian Stories by Francesc Serés and In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda from the Catalan. He is currently translating two contemporary Catalan classics, The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla and Uncertain Glory by Joan Sales.
GÖKÇENURE Ç. began publishing his poetry in Turkish magazines in 1990. His two collections, The Handbook of Every Book and The Rest of the Words, were published by Yitik Ülke; he has also published in Italy and Serbia. He translated Wallace Stevens, Paul Auster, Anne Carson, Katerina Illiopoulou, Milan Dobričić, Ivan Hristov, Claudiu Komartin’s selected poetry and a modern Japanese Haiku anthology into Turkish, and is preparing an anthology of modern American poetry.
STEPHEN CAMPIGLIO has published two chapbooks, Cross-Fluence and Verbal Clouds through Various Magritte Skies. He founded and directs the Mishi-maya-gat Spoken Word & Music Series at Manchester Community College in CT. One of his translations of Giuseppe Bonaviri recently won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, and he has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.
MASSIMO CARLOTTO is one of Italy’s most popular authors and a major exponent of the Mediterranean Noir novel. A member of Italian’s revolutionary left in the seventies, Carlotto was imprisoned for murder from 1985-1993, until, in response to public pressure, he was pardoned by the Italian President. Published in English with Europa Editions, in addition to his popular Alligator series, are The Fugitive, Death’s Dark Abyss, Poisonville, Bandit Love, and the forthcoming At the End of a Dull Day.
ERRI DE LUCA is an Italian novelist, translator, screenwriter, and poet. In 2013, he was the recipient of the European Prize for Literature. He has received the France’s Prix Femina Etranger and Germany’s Petrarca Preis. His recent novels include The Day Before Happiness and The Crime of a Soldier. The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars, based on his screenplay, won Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013.
SHARIF S. ELMUSA is a poet, scholar, and writer. He is the author of Flawed Landscape: Poems 1987-2008, and co-editor of the anthology, Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry. His poems have appeared in many print and online publications. His articles have been published in major newspapers in Egypt and the U.S., including Jadaliyya and Mada Masr. Elmusa is currently a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University. He is Palestinian by birth, American by citizenship, and moves between the United States and the Middle East.
ALEX EPSTEIN is the author of four collections of short stories and three novels; his work has been translated into English, French, Spanish, Russian, Greek, Dutch, Croatian, and Italian. In 2003, he was awarded Israel’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature. He teaches creative writing in Tel Aviv. His collections of short-short stories, Blue Has No South and Lunar Savings Time, were published by Clockroot Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing.
YOUSSEF FADEL is a novelist, playwright and screenwriter, born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1949. During the so-called “Years of Lead” in Morocco, he was imprisoned in the notorious Moulay al-Sheriff prison (1974-75). His first play, “The Barber in the Poor District,” was made into a film directed by Mohamed al-Rakab in 1982. His novel Hashish won the 2001 Grand Atlas Prize. A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me is his ninth novel.
MARCELLO FOIS is a leading figure of the New Sardinian Literature movement. He wrote his first novel, Ferro Recente, in 1989; it was published by Granata Press in 1992. That same year his second novel, Picta, received the Italo Calvino Prize. His Memoria del vuoto, published by Einaudi, received the Grinzane Cavour Prize, the Volponi Prize, and the Alassio Centolibri Prize. Fois writes for the theater as well as screenplays for both television and film. He is one of the founders of the annual Island of Stories Festival in Gavoi, Sardinia.
YVONNE FRECCERO is the author of numerous translations, including Rene Girard’s Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, The Scapegoat, and Job, The Victim of His People from French; and GianPaolo Biasin’s The Smile of the Gods from Italian. Her most recent translation is The Wind in My Hair, the memoir of a Palestinian woman, Salwa Salem.
DAWN FULTON is the author of Signs of Dissent: Maryse Condé and Postcolonial Criticism, and has published articles on literature of the Francophone Caribbean in Callaloo, Romanic Review, and The French Review. Fulton teaches French language, Francophone African and Caribbean literature, and Francophone cinema at Smith College.
PATRICIA FREDERICK is chair of the Department of Global Languages and Cultures at Northern Arizona University. Her publications include critical studies and translations of works by Marguerite Yourcenar, Amin Maalouf, and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, as well as Franco-African and Franco-Caribbean writers Djura, Maryse Condé, Bernard Dadié, and Kateb Yacine.
MARIA GRECH GANADO is a poet, translator, and critic. She studied English at the Universities of Malta, Cambridge and Heidelberg. She has published five collections of Maltese poetry, for which she twice won a National Book Prize. In 2000, she received the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika (Medal for Service to the Republic).
GABRIELLA GHERMANDI, an Ethiopian-Italian writer and performer, was born in Addis Ababa in 1965 and moved to Italy in 1979. She has published short stories in a wide variety of journals and magazines, founded the Atse Tewodros Project, and is a playwright. She was chosen to be part of the jury panel for the 2014 Neustadt Prize for Literature. Ghermandi is a founding member of the editorial board of El-Ghibli, an online journal of migration literature. Her 2007 debut novel, Queen of Flowers and Pearls, will be published in English this spring.
NATHALIE HANDAL is from Bethlehem, Palestine, was raised in France and Latin America, and educated in the United Kingdom, the U.S., and the Arab world. She is the author of numerous books, including Poet in Andalucía; Love and Strange Horses, winner of the 2011 Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award; and The Lives of Rain. Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, and Honored Finalist for the Gift of Freedom Award. She writes the travel column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders.
JIM HICKS is the Executive Editor of the Massachusetts Review.
FADY JOUDAH's latest poetry collections are Alight and Textu from Copper Canyon Press. He is a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry for 2014–2015.
INAAM KACHACHA is a journalist, documentarian, biographer, and writer. She was born in Baghdad in 1952, and studied journalism at Baghdad University, working in Iraqi press and radio before moving to Paris to complete a PhD at the Sorbonne. She is the Paris correspondent for Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, and Kol Al-Usra magazine of Sharjah, UAE. Her first novel, Heart Springs, appeared in 2005 and her second, The American Granddaughter, was shortlisted for IPAF in 2009.
LAURE KATSAROS has been teaching nineteenth- century French literature and culture at Amherst College since 2002. She is the author of two books: A New World of Love: Bachelors and Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century France, and New York-Paris: Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City. She is at work on a book-length biography of Isabelle Rimbaud, the sister of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, and researching architectural utopias, surveillance, and privacy, with support from a Mellon New Directions Fellowship.
BARBARA KELLUM teaches ancient Roman art and architecture at Smith College, where she is also a founding member of the Film Studies program. She is the author of numerous articles on Pompeii and Rome during the reign of the first emperor Augustus.
RUTH AHMEDZAI KEMP is a British translator of Arabic, German and Russian, with a focus on contemporary fiction, history and politics. She studied German and Russian literature at Oxford University, followed by a Masters in Translation and Interpreting at Bath. She holds a postgraduate Diploma in Translation from Arabic to English. Her recent work has been published in The Washington Post, Words Without Borders, Banipal, and Index on Censorship.
MOUSTAFA KHALIFÉ was born in 1948 in Syria. He started a degree of law in 1973, but pursued by the secret services in 1977, he went underground. Arrested in 1981, he spent thirteen years in prison. Freed in 1994, he finally graduated in 1997. He was forced to leave the country in 2005 and now lives in France. abdelrahim lahbibi is a Moroccan novelist, born in Safi in 1950. He left Safi for Fez in 1967, where he obtained a BA in Arabic Language from the College of Arts and Human Sciences in 1970. He worked as a teacher of Arabic language and literature until 1982 and as a school inspector and curriculum coordinator from 1984 onwards. He has published three novels in Arabic: Bread, Hashish and Fish; The Best of Luck; and The Journeys of ’Abdi, Known as Son of Hamriya.
LAILA LALAMI was born and raised in Morocco. She is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize long list. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and numerous anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. Her new novel, The Moor’s Account, will be published in 2014.
AMIN MAALOUF is one of the most respected Franco-Lebanese writers in the western world. Author of The Crusades through Arab Eyes and Disordered World, Maalouf describes himself as “irrémédiablement minoritaire, irrémédiablement étranger.” His L’Amour de loin deals with the love of the twelfth-century Occitan poet-crusader, Jaufré Rudel, for a Lebanese Countess from Tripoli.
ROBYN MARSACK has been Director of the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh since 2000. She has facilitated many translation workshops in partnership with Literature Across Frontiers, and her translation here was made at a workshop in Istanbul. She has coedited several poetry anthologies, including Twenty Contemporary New Zealand Poets and After Lermontov: Translations for the Bicentenary.
KHALED MATTAWA was born in Benghazi, Libya, and immigrated to the U.S. in his teens. He is the author of four books.of poetry, the translator of nine, the co-editor of two anthologies of Arab-American literature, and author of Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Art and His Nation. He is the recipient of many prizes, and was, in 2014, named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
PREDRAG MATVEJEVIĆ is a Bosnian and Croatian writer, best known for his Mediterranean Breviary: A Cultural Landscape, which has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has taught at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris as well as La Sapienza in Rome. He is the past President and lifelong honorary Vice-President of Pen International.
CHRISTIAN MUHRBECK was born in East Berlin, Germany, and studied photography at the Academy of Arts in Bremen. He lives in Berlin and works for various newspapers, publishers and agencies. For the book project with Ilija Trojanow, he took pictures over ten years in Bulgaria. His work focuses on the Balkan countries and East Africa.
VICTORIA OFFREDI POLETTO has taught English as a Foreign Language in Italy, France, Spain, and Iran, and ran her own English language school in Kent, England. For twenty years she taught Italian at Smith College, including a senior seminar on the Theory & Practice of Translation. Since her retirement in 2007, she has collaborated with Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi in translating works by immigrant women to Italy, including Cristina Ali Farah’s Madre piccola and Gabriella Ghemandi’s Regina dei fiori e di perle.
A native of Italy, ALFONSO PROCACCINI taught at Yale University for six years before joining the faculty at Smith College in 1981. He has taught courses on Dante, Boccaccio, and the symbolic use of food in the western literary tradition. He is currently working on a book concerned with the theme of wonder and the poet’s peculiar vision in various Italian authors, from Dante to Galileo.
AHMED SAADAWI is an Iraqi novelist, poet and screenwriter, born in 1973 in Baghdad, where he works as a documentary filmmaker. He is the author of a volume of poetry, Anniversary of Bad Songs, and three novels, The Beautiful Country, Indeed He Dreams or Plays or Dies, and Frankenstein in Baghdad. In 2010, he was selected for the Beirut 39 project, as one of the thirty-nine best Arab authors under the age of 40.
Born on a farm in the village of Cougou in western France, JAMES SACRÉ has published over sixty books of poetry. His poems have appeared in every major French literary journal, and he has won nearly every prize awarded to poets in France (the Prix Max Jacob in 2013.) He is a Chevalier de l›Ordre des Arts et Lettres and Doris Silbert Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Smith College, where he taught for many years.
IGIABA SCEGO is an Italian writer of Somali descent who was born in 1974 in Rome where she still lives.
LEÏLA SEBBAR was born in Algeria and lives in France. She is the author of more than two dozen novels and short story collections. Among her works in English are The Seine was Red: Paris, October, 1969 and Sherazade. Her influential correspondence with Nancy Huston, Lettres Parisiennes: Histoires d’exil, has not been translated.
FRANCESC SERÉS was born in Saidí in 1972 on the border between Catalonia and Spain, near the deserted area of Monegros. Russian Stories, his fictional anthology of Russian writers, won the City of Barcelona Award and the Spanish Critics Award. His works have been translated into Spanish, French, and English. He is a frequent contributor to the Spanish newspaper El País.
ERSI SORIROPOULOS is the author of thirteen books of fiction and a volume of poetry. She has written scripts for film and television, and participated in exhibitions of Visual Poetry. In 2010, her novel Zigzag Through the Bitter-Orange Trees won both the Greek National Literature Prize and the Book Critics’ Award. Her last novel, Eva, won the Athens Academy Prize, and her collection Feel blue, dress in red was awarded with the National Literature Prize for the best collection of short stories in 2013. Her work has been translated into many languages. She lives in Athens, Greece.
MBAREK SRYFI is a lecturer in Foreign Languages (Arabic) at the University of Pennsylvania, and is pursuing a PhD in Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies. His translations have appeared in CELAAN, Metamorphoses, meadmagazine. org, World Literature Today, and Banipal. Forthcoming translations include Monarch of the Square, an anthology of short stories by Mohammed Zefzaf; and Arabs and the Art of Storytelling by Abdelfattah Kilito.
EVELYN TOYNTON is an American novelist and essayist living in Norfolk, England. Her most recent book was a biography of Jackson Pollock, published by Yale University Press.
ILIJA TROJANOW is a German author born in Bulgaria. He grew up in Kenya and lived for six years in India. A cosmopolitan of many interests, Trojanow has had several books translated into English, including A Collection of Worlds in 2009.
RUSSELL SCOTT VALENTINO is the author of two scholarly monographs, and the translator of seven book-length works from Italian, Croatian, and Russian. He served as Editor- in-Chief at the Iowa Review from 2009 to 2013, and is currently president of the American Literary Translators Association. He is senior editor at Autumn Hill Books, and Professor and Chair of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. His latest book, The Woman in the Window, will be published in 2014.
WALLS OF FREEDOM is a powerful collection of street art, photographed during the first three years of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25th, 2011. Published in Berlin by From Here to Fame Publishing, Walls of Freedom is edited by published Don Karl, a cultural activist, graffiti writer, and artist, and Basma Hamdy, an Egyptian artist, designer, and educator. Artists include Nazeer, a self-taught artist inspired by guerrilla marketing; Alaa Awad, assistant lecturer in mural painting at Luxor's Faculty of Fine Arts; Ammar Abo Bakr, artist and faculty member at the College of Fine Arts in Luxor; and Hanaa El Degham, an Egyptian artist based in Berlin. Additional artists, including those who wish to retain anonymity, are El Zeft, Ahmed Hayman, Munir Sayegh, Mad Graffiti Week, Ali Khaled, and Abdo El Amir.
VANESSA WINSHIP is a British photographer who has worked on projects throughout the world, particularly eastern Europe. Her work has been exhibited twice in the National Portrait Gallery in London and prominently at Les Rencontres d’Arles. She has won two World Press Photo Awards: “Photographer of the Year” at the Sony World Photography Awards, and the HCB Award (the first woman to do so). Her first retrospective exhibition was at Fundación MAPFRE gallery in Madrid in 2014.
JONATHAN WRIGHT worked for many years as a journalist in countries across the Arab world including Tunisia, Oman, Lebanon and Egypt. He was managing editor of Arab Media and Society, and was awarded the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel. He has translated works by Khaled el-Khamissi, Hassan Blasim, Rasha al-Ameer, Fahd al-Atiq, Alaa el-Aswany, and Galal Amin. Bahaa Abdelmegid’s Temple Bar; Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser and Sleepwalkers by Sa’ad Makkawi are forthcoming.