24 March 2007

Middle Eastern Writers

My Modern World Literature students keep asking for more information about and writings by Middle Eastern writers. Since I teach the course most often online, I like to give my students as many online sources as I can find, without having to ask them to purchase an additional textbook. However, if you're looking for a textbook on Middle Eastern writing, Literatures of the Middle East by Tony Barnstone and Willis Barnstone (Prentice Hall, 2003) seems like a great option. The book covers texts from the antiquity to the present, extending beyond the scope of my Modern World Literature course, but it includes all of the writers and some of the works listed below.

These are some of the new resources that I will be adding to my Modern World Literature reading list. Many of them could also be used in other literature, or perhaps even composition, courses.



Nawal el-Saadawi (1931-)

Nawal el-Saadawi, a well-known feminist Egyptian writer and physician, is a prolific writer of short stories, essays, and novels. The author's official website, Nawal el Saadawi Sherif Hetata, contains some quotes that could be used as discussion or writing prompts.


Reza Baraheni (1935-)

Reza Baraheni is an Iranian Turk who writes in Persian. He is a leading novelist, poet, and essayist in Iran. With the rise of the Islamic Republic, he was fired from his university post and imprisoned. More information about the author is available from the RAHA - World Independent Writers website.

Selected poems by Baraheni are available at the Mah-mag - Magazine of the Arts & Humanity website, including "Nostalgia" and "Crying."


Forugh Farrokhazad (1935-1967)

Forugh Farrokhzad is the most famous woman in the history of Persian literature. Before her tragic death in an automobile accident in 1967, she wrote several books of poetry and worked as a filmmaker. Forugh Farrokhazad's Open Forum Website is a beautiful dedication to her work.

A link from this website to “Selected Works” leads to many of her poems, including the following titles: “Another Birth,” “Gift,” “The Wind Will Take Us,” and “Love Song.”


Mahmud Darwish (1942-)

Mahmud Darwish is probably the world's most celebrated Palestinian poet. More information about the author is available at the Arab World Books website.

The Where to Now blog at Word Press.com has posted his poem titled “The Prison Cell,” and the Angry Arab News Service website lists his poem titled “Victim No. 48.” These are the two poems by Darwish that were selected for Literatures of the Middle East.


Mohamed el-Bisatie (1938-)


Mohamed el-Bisatie is a member of the group of Egyptian writers known as “Gallery 68.” More information about the author is available at the Arab World Books website.

The same website provides a copy of his short story “A Conversation from the Third Floor," which was also selected for Literatures of the Middle East.


Hatif Janabi (1955-)

Hatif Janabi was born in Iraq, but he has lived in exile in Poland since the late 1970s. He has published several volumes of poetry. So far the only websites I have found about the author are in Polish.

Selected poems by Janabi are available on the Artful Dodge website (scroll down, past Mattawa's prose poems), including “Savage Continents” and “To Where.”


Yashar Kemal (1922-)

Yashar Kemal is one of the most popular contemporary Turkish writers and a candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature. Read more about the author at the Books and Writers website.

Kemal's short story “Campaign of Lies” is posted on the web by the Soc.Culture.Kurdish.


Naguib Mahfouz (1911-)

Naguib Mahfouz is a well-known Egyptian writer and 1988 winner of Nobel Prize for Literature. Read more about the author at the Books & Writers website.

Study questions for and a synopsis of Mahfouz'z short story “Zaabalawi” are available at Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's World Literature Website. However, I have not yet been able to find the story itself online.


Khaled Mattawa (1964-)

Khaled Mattawa was born in Libya, but he immigrated to the U.S. in 1979. More information about the author and his work can be found on the Artful Dogde website, including “Cricket Mountain,” "Days of 1932," "Days of 1948, " and “Selima!”

More poems by Mattawa, including “Borrowed Tongue” and “The Bus Driver Poem,” can be found on the Web del Sol website.


Mohammed Mrabet (1940-)

Mohammed Mrabet is a Moroccan storyteller whose tales often portray the Maghrebi region. His complete biography can be found on the Paul Bowles Web Site.

An audio recording of his story “The Saint by Accident” is available on the Odeo website.


Amos Oz (1939-)

Amos Oz is an Israeli novelist, short story writer, and essayist, whose stories often describe life on the kibbutz. More information about Oz can be found on The Jewish Agency for Israel website.

Oz’s short story “Nomad and Viper” is available on the website of Tammie Bob from College of DuPage website. The story portrays the Arabs as “the Other” – imagined as dangerous, threatening and yet seductively attractive.


Dan Pagis (1930-1986)

Dan Pagis, an Israeli poet, is considered a major world poet of his generation. Pagis was born in Bukovina, Romania. During World War II, he was interned in a concentration camp for several years. He arrived in pre-state Israel in 1946 and became a teacher on a kibbutz. Pagis writes about his family on the Holocaust Studies website.

Selected poems by Pagis are available on the ISRO Press website, including “Instructions for Crossing the Border,” “Brothers,” “Europe Late,” and “Written in a Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car.”


Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)

Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet and diplomat. More information about him is posted on the Damascus Online website.

Qabbani has written lyrics for many songs – some examples can be heard on the same Damascus Online website (requires the Real Player). The poet’s own Old Poetry website lists 37 of his poems in English.


Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936-)

The Poetry International Web describes Dahlia Ravikovich as “one of the most brilliant and versatile Israeli poets."

Selected poems by Ravikovich can be found on the same web site (use the link above), including
“A Dress of Fire,” “In the Year to Come, In the Days to Come,” ”Pride,” and “Three or Four Cyclamen.”

*) Graphic image from Ever Eden Design

3 comments:

Jeff said...

What an interesting site you have here! I just came across it while doing some research on Mohamed el-Bisatie.

We need more people writing about world literature.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Swe!!! (Above)

Jeff said...

Hi Guys