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Summer reading recommendations

From July 20, 2020 until September 06, 2020

For yet another year, Casa Árabe is providing a selection of books by Arab authors or with Arab themes to keep you company this summer. Some of them will be presented at our headquarters in Madrid and Cordoba this fall.

With this list, we are also giving a preview of some of the new titles that will be presented at Casa Árabe during the last quarter of 2020, as well as bringing back some of the most successful interviews from the first half of the year.

As far as new publications are concerned, we would like to highlight the following:

- Una dacha en el Golfo (A Dacha in the Gulf), by Emilio Sánchez Mediavilla, in which the writer shows us a portrait of Bahraini society. With this work, he was awarded the first Anagrama “Sergio González Rodríguez” Chronicle Award for 2019. We will be presenting it in Madrid on Thursday, September 3.

- Mi reino es de este mundo (My Kingdom Is of This World), by Murid Barguti (published by Ediciones del Oriente y del Mediterráneo, translation by L.M. Cañada).This is an anthology that brings together more than fifty poems published from 1980 to 2018, offering an almost full panoramic view of the author’s production. It seeks to console, protest, accompany and attest to a love for things that normally go unnoticed. We will present it in Madrid this October.

- The journal Banipal, a publication specializing in modern Arab literature, with more than twenty years of history, is now launching its Spanish language edition, right in the midst of the pandemic. The first issue, corresponding to the spring of 2020, includes texts by Kafa Al-Zou’bi, Mahmoud Shukair, Salima Salih, Muhsin Al Ramli and Rachida el Charmi, as well as others.

- Un autobús verde sale de Alepo (A Green Bus Leaves Aleppo) by Syrian Kurdish author Jan Dost. Published by Ediciones del Oriente y del Mediterráneo, the work portrays the reality experienced by the civilians forced to leave eastern Aleppo in December 2016, after years of conflict and repression by the Bashar al-Assad regime. Here you can watch a video of the interview between the author, Jan Dost, and the translator of the Spanish edition, Naomí Ramírez Díaz.

- El gran espejo (The Big Mirror), by Mohamed Mrabet and transcribed by Paul Bowles: “a powerful and shocking legend of blood, mirrors and deadly madness.” The publication, which will reach bookstores next autumn (published by Cabaret Voltaire), is part of the project to recover all of the works which the two authors created together.

The books we have presented during the first half of the year include:

- La isla de los genios (Soqotra: Island of the Djinns), by Jordi Esteva (published by Atalanta Ed.), undeniably a classic work of travel literature. Through its pages, the author takes us on a journey to this island lost in the Indian Ocean, nearly four hundred kilometers off the coasts of Arabia. 

- Genocidio del pueblo yazidí (Genocide Against the Yazidi People), by Ethel Bonet (published by Ed. Última Línea). Since the killing perpetrated by Daesh in August 2014, the Yazidi people have been turned into one of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities: over half a million Yazidis now live in refugee camps in northern Iraq, while another one hundred thousand have chosen to seek a better life in countries like Germany, Canada and Australia. The future of this ancient Persian religion is as uncertain as peace is between the Tigris and the Euphrates.

- Marruecos, el extraño vecino (Morocco, the Odd Neighbor), by Javier Otazu (published by Libros de la Catarata). This book discusses society, including both the commonplace and the extraordinary, in a country both close and distant all at once, trapped within a system and a set of laws which look towards the past, passionate in its contradictions and its own particular steps both towards and away from modernization. Watch our video with an interview of the author here or listen to it in a podcast.

- Tomar refugio (Taking Refuge), by Mathias Énard and Zeina Abirached (published by Salamandra Graphic). The Lebanese graphic novelist and the French writer use their four hands to create two unusual love stories, one set in Afghanistan in 1939 and the other in Berlin in 2016. Watch our video with an interview of the authors here or listen to it in a podcast.

- La vida lenta (Slow Life), by Abdellah Taïa (published in Spanish by Cabaret Voltaire). France, after the terrorist attacks in 2015. A story of friendship and disagreement between two people excluded from the republic: Munir, a 40-year-old gay Parisian of Moroccan origin, and his octogenarian neighbor Madame Marty. Watch our video with an interview of the author here or listen to it in a podcast.

- La novia del mar y otros cuentos de tribus árabes (The Sea Bride and Other Tales from Arab Tribes), by C. G. Campbell (published in Spanish by Los Libros de las Malas Compañías). The book consists of 60 short stories selected from the three books by C.G. Campbell: Tales from the Arab Tribes (stories from the Lower Euphrates), From Town and Tribe (tales from southern Iraq, Muscat, Oman and Baluchistan) and Told in the Market Place (stories from Palestine, Libya, Oman and Iraq), an anthology that helps preserve the memory of peoples and their oral heritage.

Los que tienen miedo (The Frightened Ones), by Dima Wannous (published by Sitara). What feeling is shared by 23 million Syrians? Why are history and memory at the heart of this novel? The novel “The Frightened Ones” presents a tortuous love story plagued with anguish, panic and suffering. Here you can listen to a podcast with an interview of the author.

- Un solar abandonado (An Abandoned Plot), by Mohamed El Morabet. This book tells the story of Ismael Atta’s journey from Madrid to Alhucemas, a tale which, amid the smoke from his cigarettes, mixes running away with wanting to start out a new life, reality with dreams, desires with duty, storytelling with the non-existent texts of an oral language. Here you can listen to a podcast with an interview of the author.

- Siempre han hablado por nosotras (They’ve Always Spoken for Us), by Najat El Hachmi. In this work, winner of the Estado Crítico de Ensayo essay award for 2019, the author takes a close look at the patriarchy, in a brief but courageous way, to defend freedom and discuss feminism and identity.

Throughout the months of July and August, you can listen to interviews with some of the authors of these works on the program “El Mundo desde las casas,” on Radio 5 (Monday through Friday at 6:18 p.m.).

- El pionero de la luz: Alhacén y su Libro de la Óptica (The Pioneer of Light: Alhacén and his Book of Optics), by María Luisa Calvo Padilla (published by Ediciones Complutense). In 2015, the International Year of Light, a millennium was commemorated since the appearance of the work of the Arab scientist Ibn al-Hytham (Alhacén), the Book of Optics or Kitab al-Manazir. The book had a great impact on the subsequent development of Western science, with several translations and reprints between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.

- El rapto (The Abduction), by Maram al-Masri (published in Spanish by Ediciones La Cama Sol). Through heartbreaking poems, the author relives the thirteen years she spent unable to see her son. The colorful work with dreamlike images by Rafael Canogar, one of the greatest representatives of abstract painting, accompanies this equally unique text.

- Islam y desposesión (Islam and Dispossession, published by Ediciones del Oriente y del Mediterráneo). Coordinated by Luz Gómez, the book includes fifteen articles, by the same number of authors, structured to provide an analysis of the dynamics of dispossession endured by the Muslim world and the way in which social, artistic and doctrinaire movements are seeking to transform them.

Other Casa Árabe publications:

- “Science in Al-Andalus”. Issue 17/18 of the journal Awraq. A history of science, something that has always been examined from the perspective of social sciences or humanities.

- Exhibition catalogue This Long Journey into Your Eyes by Rachid Koraïchi. This publication is a compilation of the works that the Algerian artist exhibited at the Casa Árabe venues in Madrid and Cordoba in 2019. In the book we can find not only the works, but also a description of the process through which they were produced.

- ”Dialogues on Open Societies.” This publication includes the texts from the conferences offered within the framework of the cycle of the same name, organized by Casa Árabe and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation between January and July 2019.

And if you haven’t read it yet, we recommend this classic of contemporary Egyptian literature:

- The Days: Memories of Childhood and Youth, by Taha Husain (published in Spanish by Ediciones del Viento). A young Taha Husain tells how he lost his eyesight. But this did not keep him from going far, as his great intelligence and excellent memory quickly allow him to memorize the Qur’an and excel in school.

Remember that you can order and purchase all of your books at Casa Árabe’s Balqís bookstore.
Summer reading recommendations