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Timely, Prescient: Libyan Fiction Featured in New Banipal Magazine

By Olivia Snaije

When I mentioned to Banipal magazine’s publisher Margaret Obank that their timing was uncanny, Obank answered, “Yes, we thought so too.”

The preeminent magazine on Arabic language fiction in translation, Banipal’s 40th issue, out this past Monday, is dedicated to Libyan literature. Their previous issue was on Tunisia and back issues of number 38 on Yemen can be ordered via the website.

The Libyan Fiction issue includes the following authors: Ghazi Gheblawi, Wafa al-Bueissa, Hisham Matar, (his book Country of Men was shortlisted for the 2006 Man booker prize) Ibrahim al-Koni, Mohammed Mesrati, Razan Naim Moghrabi, Mohammed al-Asfar, Ahmed Fagih, Giuma Bukleb, Omar el-Kiddi, Saleh Snoussi, Najwa Binshatwan (a Beirut39 author), Omar Abulqasim Alkikli, Azza Kamil al-Maghour, Ibrahim Ahmidan, Redwan Abushwesha, Mohammed al-Arishiya, and Mohammed al-Anaizi. Words without Borders described Mohammed al-Asfar’s writing as “an expression of the grief of living under dictatorship. In this way, his work describes the unsaid and unmentionable. His characters are a terrible expression of how coded and ambiguously allegorical art often is forced to become under state censorship.”

There is a profile of writer Ali Mustafa al-Musrati, whose collection of short stories was published in English by Binghamton University as well as a reproduction of an online declaration made by Arab intellectuals stating their “full solidarity with the Arab peoples who have gone out into the streets to demand their legitimate rights.”

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