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The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction Paperback – October 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 2 edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400079764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400079766
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #471,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sweeping anthology is as eclectic as the nations it represents. Johnson-Davies, called "the leading Arabic-to-English translator of our time" by Edward Said, collects work from 79 writers across 14 countries. Among those included are Mahmoud Teymour, widely regarded as the father of the Arabic short story; Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature; and Hanan al-Shaykh, a female writer in Arabic whose work in translation has far outsold copies in her native tongue. The quality of these short stories, novellas, and novel excerpts vary, but there are many standouts, including Jabra Ibrahim Jabra's emotionally dynamic excerpt from the novel In Search of Walid Masoud; Nawal El Saadawi's brave treatment of sex, slavery and women; Yusuf Idris's morally resonant excerpt from City of Love and Ashes; and the lyrical entries from Al-Shaykh and Mahfouz. Though some readers might grow tired of the religious piety and conservative thought offered up in most of the work, readers who are interested in dipping into a contemporary literary canon very different from the West's will find this an illuminating resource. An introduction by Johnson-Davies provides a lucid yet brief overview, as do the short biographies preceding each author's work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Denys Johnson-Davies, “the leading Arabic-English translator of our time” according to Edward Said, has translated more than twenty-five volumes of short stories, novels, plays, and poetry, and was the first to translate the work of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He is also interested in Islamic studies and is co-translator of three volumes of Prophetic Hadith. Recently he has written a number of children’s books adapted from traditional Arabic sources, and a collection of his own short stories, Fate of a Prisoner, was published in 1999. Born in Canada, he grew up in Sudan and East Africa and now divides his time bewteen Marrakesh and Cairo.

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Customer Reviews

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A great collection of short passages from recent fiction in the Arab world.
Steve R. Marquardt
You'll be exposed to the writing of a great number of writers and can decide whose writing to pursue independently from there.
Neodoering
This is a very comprehensive collection of modern Arabic language fiction, in English.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary VINE VOICE on December 10, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The West has so little access to Arabic literature, and there are few translations available, except for perhaps a handful of writers. So this incredible collection is a much-welcomed -- and much-needed -- addition to my library. If we want to understand, and connect with, the Arab world, getting a glimpse into the culture is an important step, and this terrific collection goes a long way toward helping with that goal.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By hh on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather than getting a true sense of each writer, what one gets is a mere glimpse. Most of the entries are just excerpts. And many of those excerpts are a stingy 3-4 pages long. It's like riding in a car and seeing a brief image as you pass by. The editor should have included fewer writers and given them space enough to have their work truly represented. Further, there is no organization that is obvious to my eye. I settle in too briefly with the prescient and modern vision of the Yemeni writer Abdul- Wali (deceased) then jump to the agitated voice of young Yahya Taher Abdullah (also felled before his time) then jump again through the sharp eye of social commentator Abouzeid and over two wisps from other writers before finding the Arabic Saki (Al Amir). Whew! All that in 23 pages. A whirlwind, for certain, but not what I was hoping for. Perhaps a vol 1 and vol 2 would have allowed space for greater inclusiveness without sacrificing content. This anthology is a great idea, but it needs to be re-thought and re-released.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a very comprehensive collection of modern Arabic language fiction, in English. My only complaint, if it could even be called that, is that some of them are not really short stories but chapters taken from popular novels. That in and of itself is not bad as it can inspire the reader to seek out the novel. The problem is that a couple of them seemed uprooted in that there was not enough background information.

Some of these stories are political dealing with wars, partitions and colonialism. One deals with a so called honor killing, another the harshness of desert life, others with forbidden and lost loves, conflict between allegiance to custom and a desire for individual fulfillment. A few were satirical, like the excerpt from Alaa Al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building. This reminded me very much of Nawal El saadawi's Woman at Point Zero. A young woman with pride, principles, and a degree loses several jobs because she refuses to put out. Finally, one of her neighbors sets her straight by telling her to wise up and realize that her degree is useless and that putting out is part of every job, that the smart thing is to learn how to negotiate. What's daunting about this satire is that Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero was written in the 1970s and The Yacoubian Building is was written in the last few years. So, there hasn't been a lot of progress.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris C. Martin on November 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
I agree with the reviewer who complains that some of the excerpts here are too short. It's impossible to know whether this is due to the publisher or the editor, though. Johnson-Davies' workload included being the translator of several stories in this anthology so one might assume that his workload didn't give him the chance to create a longer anthology or a two-part work.

The strengths and characteristic styles of each author generally come through, though, so this book does serve its purpose as a sampler. After reading it, I was able to make a short list of about ten authors that I would like read more of.
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