As the New Year approaches, take stock of the best Arab books that, thanks to the work of translators and publishers, will be to be discovered or rediscovered next year.
It is not always easy for the uninitiated to discover Arabic literature. In fact, Westerners are often forced to wait for translations of works to come out, at least in languages using the Latin alphabet, more often read and spoken because they are taught more in school. Here are 5 Arabic books that will be translated into English in 2020.
Passage to the Plaza (Bab Al-Saha)
This book by Sahar Khalifeh, translated by Sawad Hussain, takes place in Bab Al-Saha, a district of Nablus, during the 1987 Intifada. it is focused on the conflict through the eyes of women. The book, which is expected to be available in February, is a finalist for the next Neustadt International Literature Prize and is considered by the Arab Writers’ Union as one of the 105 best novels of the 20th century.
The magnificent conman of Cairo
This is a classic, written by Adel Kamel, a contemporary of Naguib Mahfouz (author of the preface) and translated by Waleed Almusharaf. First published in 1942, it then fell into oblivion before being reissued in 2014. It is a satire of power called “The Great Malim” in Arabic, Malim being an apprentice carpenter.
Book of sleep
Written in 2013, this book by Haytham El Wardany, translated by Robin Moger, oscillates between philosophy, anecdotes, poetry, political analysis, and narrative, to paint a fresco of contemporary Egypt under Mohammed Morsi’s regime.
The Butcher of Casablanca
This work by Abdelilah Hamdouche, translated by Peter Daniel Hoopoe, which will be released next April, is the latest work in the series whose hero is Inspector Hanash. The series started in 2017 with Bled Dry. The author is not at his first attempt since he has been writing detective novels on a regular basis since 2000.
Once Upon a Time in Aleppo
A collection of poems written by Fouad Fouad and co-translated by the author himself and Norbert Hirschhorn, “Once upon a time in Aleppo” alludes to the exchanges of the two collaborators, who are also doctors. There are therefore references to hospitals, and medicine, among others.