Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” It is in this vein that Sholeh Wolpé’s mesmerizing memoir in verse unfolds. In this lyrical and candid work, her fifth collection of poems, Wolpé invokes the abacus as an instrument of remembering. Through different countries and cultures, she carries us bead by bead on a journey of loss and triumph, love and exile. In the end, the tally is insight, not numbers, and we arrive at a place where nothing is too small for gratitude.
Absinthe 28: Orphaned of Light features contemporary literature of migration translated from and to Arabic. In short stories, creative nonfiction essays, poetry, and selections from novels, a multiplicity of migration experiences is brought to the fore: life in diaspora, undocumented labor, refugeehood, human trafficking, internal displacement, exile.
This issue brings together names familiar to readers of Arabic literature in translation, such as Ghassan Kanafani and Saadi Youssef, with writers making their English-language debuts, such as Dearborn, MI-based Kurdish Iraqi poet Gulala Nouri and Libyan novelist Mohamad Alasfar. Likewise, the issue includes veteran translators Marilyn Booth, Nancy Roberts, and Khaled Mattawa alongside newcomers, several of them graduate students at the University of Michigan.
Each piece is accompanied by a translator’s reflection that meditates on the work’s themes as well as the creative process of translation, and the issue’s poetry is presented in a side-by-side Arabic-English format.
Absinthe 28 comes to us at a time when, according to the UN, one in every 78 people on earth is displaced. This collection serves as a reminder that translation and migration are inextricably linked.
The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring addresses the often unspoken connection between the powerful call for a political-cultural renaissance that emerged with the end of South African apartheid and the popular revolts of 2011 that dramatically remade the landscape in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Looking between southern and northern Africa, the transcontinental line from Cape to Cairo that for so long supported colonialism, its chapters explore the deep roots of these two decisive events and demonstrate how they are linked by shared opposition to legacies of political, economic, and cultural subjugation. As they work from African, Islamic, and Western perspectives, the book’s contributors shed important light on a continent’s difficult history and undertake a critical conversation about whether and how the desire for radical change holds the possibility of a new beginning for Africa, a beginning that may well reshape the contours of global affairs.
Media coverage of the Danish cartoon crisis and the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan left Westerners with a strong impression that Islam does not countenance depiction of religious imagery. Jamal J. Elias corrects this view by revealing the complexity of Islamic attitudes toward representational religious art. Aisha’s Cushion emphasizes Islam’s perceptual and intellectual modes and in so doing offers the reader both insight into Islamic visual culture and a unique way of seeing the world.Aisha’s Cushion evaluates the controversies surrounding blasphemy and iconoclasm by exploring Islamic societies at the time of Muhammad and the birth of Islam; during early contact between Arab Muslims and Byzantine Christians; in medieval Anatolia and India; and in modern times. Elias’s inquiry then goes further, to situate Islamic religious art in a global context. His comparisons with Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu attitudes toward religious art show them to be as contradictory as those of Islam. Contemporary theories about art’s place in society inform Elias’s investigation of how religious objects have been understood across time and in different cultures.Elias contends that Islamic perspectives on representation and perception should be sought not only in theological writings or aesthetic treatises but in a range of Islamic works in areas as diverse as optics, alchemy, dreaming, calligraphy, literature, vehicle and home decoration, and Sufi metaphysics. Unearthing shades of meaning in Islamic thought throughout history, Elias offers fresh insight into the relations among religion, art, and perception across a broad range of cultures.
On television, the Arab Spring took place in Cairo, Tunis, and the city-states of the Persian Gulf. Yet the drama of 2010, and the decade of subsequent activism, extended beyond the cities—indeed, beyond Arabs. Bruce Maddy-Weitzman brings to light the sustained post–Arab Spring political movement of North Africa’s Amazigh people.
The Amazigh movement did not begin with the Arab Spring, but it has changed significantly since then. Amazigh Politics in the Wake of the Arab Spring details the increasingly material goals of Amazigh activism, as protest has shifted from the arena of ethnocultural recognition to that of legal and socioeconomic equality. Amazigh communities responded to the struggles for freedom around them by pressing territorial and constitutional claims while rejecting official discrimination and neglect. Arab activists, steeped in postcolonial nationalism and protective of their hegemonic position, largely refused their support, yet flailing regimes were forced to respond to sharpening Amazigh demands or else jeopardize their threadbare legitimacy. Today the Amazigh question looms larger than ever, as North African governments find they can no longer ignore the movement’s interests.
How did Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood win power so quickly after the dramatic “Arab Spring” uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year reign in February 2011? And why did the Brotherhood fall from power even more quickly, culminating with the popular “rebellion” and military coup that toppled Egypt’s first elected president, Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013? In Arab Fall, Eric Trager examines the Brotherhood’s decision making throughout this critical period, explaining its reasons for joining the 2011 uprising, running for a majority of the seats in the 2011–2012 parliamentary elections, and nominating a presidential candidate despite its initial promise not to do so. Based on extensive research in Egypt and interviews with dozens of Brotherhood leaders and cadres including Morsi, Trager argues that the very organizational characteristics that helped the Brotherhood win power also contributed to its rapid downfall. The Brotherhood’s intensive process for recruiting members and its rigid nationwide command-chain meant that it possessed unparalleled mobilizing capabilities for winning the first post-Mubarak parliamentary and presidential elections.
Yet the Brotherhood’s hierarchical organizational culture, in which dissenters are banished and critics are viewed as enemies of Islam, bred exclusivism. This alienated many Egyptians, including many within Egypt’s state institutions. The Brotherhood’s insularity also prevented its leaders from recognizing how quickly the country was slipping from their grasp, leaving hundreds of thousands of Muslim Brothers entirely unprepared for the brutal crackdown that followed Morsi’s overthrow. Trager concludes with an assessment of the current state of Egyptian politics and examines the Brotherhood’s prospects for reemerging.
The first book to present an analysis of Arab response to fascism and Nazism from the perspectives of both individual countries and the Arab world at large, this collection problematizes and ultimately deconstructs the established narratives that assume most Arabs supported fascism and Nazism leading up to and during World War II. Using new source materials taken largely from Arab memoirs, archives, and print media, the articles reexamine Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Iraqi responses in the 1930s and throughout the war.
While acknowledging the individuals, forces, and organizations that did support and collaborate with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism focuses on the many other Arab voices that identified with Britain and France and with the Allied cause during the war. The authors argue that many groups within Arab societies—elites and non-elites, governing forces, and civilians—rejected Nazism and fascism as totalitarian, racist, and, most important, as new, more oppressive forms of European imperialism. The essays in this volume argue that, in contrast to prevailing beliefs that Arabs were de facto supporters of Italy and Germany—since “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”—mainstream Arab forces and currents opposed the Axis powers and supported the Allies during the war. They played a significant role in the battles for control over the Middle East.
What is an Arab? Though many in the West would answer that question with simplistic stereotypes, the reality is far more complex and interesting. Arabs themselves have been debating Arab identity since pre-Islamic times, coming to a variety of conclusions about the nature and extent of their “Arabness.” Likewise, Westerners and others have attempted to analyze Arab identity, reaching mostly negative conclusions about Arab culture and capacity for self-government.
To bring new perspectives to the question of Arab identity, Iraqi-born scholar Nissim Rejwan has assembled this fascinating collection of writings by Arab and Western intellectuals, who try to define what it means to be Arab. He begins with pre-Islamic times and continues to the last decades of the twentieth century, quoting thinkers ranging from Ibn Khaldun to modern writers such as al-Ansari, Haykal, Ahmad Amin, al-'Azm, and Said. Through their works, Rejwan shows how Arabs have grappled with such significant issues as the influence of Islam, the rise of nationalism, the quest for democracy, women's status, the younger generation, Egypt's place in the Arab world, Israel's role in Middle Eastern conflict, and the West's "cultural invasion."
By letting Arabs speak for themselves, Arabs in the Mirror refutes a prominent Western stereotype—that Arabs are incapable of self-reflection or self-government. On the contrary, it reveals a rich tradition of self-criticism and self-knowledge in the Arab world.
Among the most dynamic and influential literary texts of the European sixteenth century, Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532) emerged from a world whose horizons were rapidly changing. The poem is a prism through which to examine various links in the chain of interactions that characterized the Mediterranean region from late antiquity through the medieval period into early modernity and beyond. Ariosto and the Arabs takes as its point of departure Jorge Luis Borges’s celebrated short poem “Ariosto y los Arabes” (1960), wherein the Furioso acts as the hinge of a past and future literary culture circulating between Europe and the Middle East. The Muslim “Saracen”—protagonist of both historical conflict and cultural exchange—represents the essential “Other” in Ariosto’s work, but Orlando Furioso also engages with the wider network of linguistic, political, and faith communities that defined the Mediterranean basin of its time.The sixteen contributions assembled here, produced by a diverse group of scholars who work on Europe, Africa, and Asia, encompass several intertwined areas of analysis—philology, religious and social history, cartography, material and figurative arts, and performance—to shed new light on the relational systems generated by and illustrative of Ariosto’s great poem.
Islamic literature is rich, varied, and abundant, as befits the literature of a civilization which once controlled an empire as great as that of the Romans. In Aspects of Islamic Civilization, A. J. Arberry has chosen and translated passages from the most highly regarded works of Islamic literature in order to illustrate the development of Islamic civilization from its origins in the sixth century to the present.
This anthology is made up of selections from Arabic and Persian writers who have given world renown to Islamic literature—such as Hafiz, Sa'di, Jalal al-Din Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Ibn al-Farid, Avicenna, Ibn Hazm—and from such works as the Koran, the Masnavi, and the Moorish Anthology. It is an invaluable collection of sources for anyone interested in the Moslem world and a fascinating volume to browse in.
An engaging collection of contemporary short stories from various Arabic countries develops students’ mastery of literary analysis and cultural awareness
Aswat Mu’asira introduces advanced level students to contemporary short stories from across the Middle East. Fifty-five stories in Arabic from twenty countries engage students with current topics and literary approaches that open the door to discovering both established and emerging authors and literary traditions. The book includes voices from often overlooked Arabic-speaking countries and peoples, giving readers the opportunity to broaden their understanding of Arabic cultures.
While most Arabic literature textbooks include only excerpts of longer works, the short stories in this collection are designed to be read in one sitting, giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a complete piece of literature. Stories are organized into chapters based on their country of origin. Each story is preceded by an author biography and followed by exercises to help students practice vocabulary and comprehension, explore the literary tradition, and master literary analysis.
Scholars of Arabic literature will also welcome these new stories, many of which are available outside the Middle East for the first time in this collection and expand the understanding of the short story and of contemporary literature from this important region.
"Pamuk is a writer who shares my reverence for the great art of the novel. He takes the novel seriously in a way that is perhaps no longer possible for Western writers, boldly describing it as European civilization’s greatest invention."—Michael McGaha
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is a prominent voice in Turkish literature, speaking to the country’s history, culture, and politics. In 2006, he became the first Turkish writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Autobiographies of Orhan Pamuk is the first book-length study of the life and writings of Pamuk. It provides both a historical and cultural context that will help readers better understand and appreciate both the man and his work. It begins with a brief biography, outlines Pamuk’s contributions to Turkish literature and history, examines how his art has evolved over the past thirty years, and discusses some of the writers who provided inspiration. Though his books deal with specifically Turkish issues, like all great literature the themes they explore are universal. In addition to a thorough analysis of his seven published novels, including Snow and My Name is Red, an entire chapter is devoted to his first two novels, Cevdet Bey and Sons and The Silent House, which have yet to be translated into English.
This is a comprehensive examination of the Nobel laureate’s work, free of jargon and of interest to anyone who enjoys good literature.
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