Interesting Arab Women Writers



On your local bookshop shelves, you’re not likely to find much literature translated from the original Arabic. You are likely to find what scholar Lila Abu-Lughod has called the “saving Muslim women” memoirs: titles characterized by themes of “coercion and lack of consent, absence of choice, and unfreedom.” To jog your memory, their dust jackets often feature a niqab-clad beauty with only her kohl-rimmed eyes peeking out.

Abu-Lughod has referred to these persistent best-sellers as “literary trafficking,” and it’s easy to churn out more in this vein, particularly as they’re usually written in English. Or we can get behind the boulder and push our readerships toward original creative work by Arab women.

In searching for great Arabophone work by women, we do run into another issue: Arab women writers get less institutional support. The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF)—like many other literary prizes around the world—has had problems celebrating the best books by women. In the same year that IPAF judges defended their “pure literary criteria,” which largely excluded women, Basma Abdel Aziz’s brilliant The Queue (2013) failed to make even the longlist. The next year, Hanan al-Shaykh’s Virgins of Londonistan(2014) didn’t make the longlist, either.

Read further @ Literary Hub

~ by eneryvibes on 1,November 13, 2016.

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