Mine is a very short review in today’s Independent [in which you can also read Robert Fisk direct from al Tahrir Square, Cairo!] but then it’s a very short book and I couldn’t pretend that length diminished this version (in Mohammed Shaheen’s translation) of Darwish’s Absent Presence!
I’ve quoted Mahmoud Darwish’s own use of the word “baffling”, below. What is truly baffling is that in English there are almost as many translators as editions of his books. A lesser voice would have been neutered by this, but Darwish is a national writer on a par with any nation and simply deserves better.
By Mahmoud Darwish
Lessons in life from the great divide
Reviewed by Guy Mannes-Abbott
Monday, 31 January 2011
Mahmoud Darwish was a giant of world literature.
This elegant edition of the last completed work before the Palestinian poet’s death in 2008 makes clear why. Absent Presence is a huge little book which defies conventional categorisation. It offers costly wisdoms Continue reading “on the biting wisdom of poets [two], mahmoud darwish”
By Radwa Ashour
Trans Barbara Romaine
Pleased to see my very short review, shortened further to fit, of Spectres in today’s Independent: “Personal, Political and Painful” [UPDATE see below for full original review & an update from MW’s obituary for Radwa].
“Spectres combines invention, unofficial history and human abyss in an elliptical novel in which Ashour articulates an ethics rooted in Arabian and ancient Egyptian cultures. The result transforms a bleak constellation into a quietly stirring beacon. Spectres provides an irresistible companion to Barghouti’s memoir I Saw Ramallah, and a contrast to Elias Khoury’s more traditional Gate of the Sun. Spectres is a boldly original novel by an important writer whose exemplary work we need more of in English.”
I had a little more to say, but would only add now that the companionship with those two titles was predicated crucially on the words, “in translation”, thus referring to the disgracefully small pool of Arabic writing yet in English. As it stands it might be read as a weird and old-fashioned kind of valorisation, no? The word “demanding” has also gone from elsewhere, and again, I only mention it because though it’s indubitably great to see the novel celebrated in The Independent, it is the best of things; a demanding read in more ways than one.
My similarly tiny review of the Mahmoud Darwish’s rivetingly demanding Absent Presence (in the Mohammad Shaheen translation) will appear in due course… (UPDATE 2018: clean link here.)
Continue reading “on radwa ashour’s spectres/atyaaf, in today’s independent”