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Banipal 45: A Literary Dream for a Forsaken Country

By Alex Mutter

Banipal, the preeminent English-language magazine for Arabic literature, has just released a particularly special 45th issue, one that not only marks Banipal’s 15th year of continuous publication, but also features writers from “all regions of Palestine.” Their timing, as always, is impeccable — particularly as the Gaza/Israel border is heating up.

The new issue features work from Palestinian writers Maya Abul Hayyat, Ala Hlehel, Ibtesam Azem, Eyad Barghuthy, Tamara Naser, Alia Saqqa, Raji Bathish, Isr’aa Kalash, Haneen Naamneh, Majed Atef, Ziad Khaddash, Einas Abdullah and Akram Musallam, along with poetry from Dalia Taha, Najwan Darwish, Basem el-Nabres, Tarek al-Karmy, Marwan Makhoul, Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, Reem Ghanayem, Yousef el-Qedra, Asma’a Azaizeh and Muheeb Barghuty.

“Nothing now is above criticism, or safely positioned inside the national decorum,” writes Anton Shammas in the issue’s introduction, and remarks on the “very special amalgam of young Palestinian voices, whose writing offers a new and refreshing literary map of that forsaken country, and whose almost unprecedented collective presence realizes a long over due literary dream.”

The issue also features pre-publication excerpts from new novels from Algeria, Syria and Lebanon, as well as guest literature from Vietnam and Romania. There is also a “major interview” with Mohammad Bakri, director of the film “Jenin, Jenin.”

The 45th issue can be purchased from Banipal’s website.

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 17, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Completing 15 years of publishing, Banipal 45–“Writers from Palestine”— is a gem of literary journalism. In pevious years, Banipal has accustomed its increasing number of readers worldwide to first-class English translations from modern Arabic literature in all genres, and has periodically offered a special issue on one Arab country or another with in-depth concentration.
    This particular issue with writers from Palestine is one of the best special issues, not only because it deals with writers from all regions of the country, regardless of present political regimes, but also because its chosen texts in translation give one of the clearest reflections of a nation that has been pleading for attention, love, and recognition in a heedless world for a long time now.
    In this issue of Banipal, young new voices and older known ones equally open their hearts to the world in compelling poetry, beautiful fiction, and passionate thought—leaving the reader at the end with the satisfying feeling of deeply knowing a cherished part of modern Arabic literature, perhaps not encountered earlier anywhere.
    Banipal is to be congratulated on its valuable achievements, especially as a window into Arabic literature that shows the human aspect of the Arab people to the world.
    To Banipal’s editor and publisher, I offer my very best wishes for many more years of further success in guiding the world to the treasures of modern Arabic literature.
    Issa J. Boullata, Ph.D. (London)
    Emeritus Professor of Arabic Literature,
    Institute of Islamic Studies,
    McGill University, Montreal

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