We talk about a few new books — ones that provide a welcome escape, and ones that seem particularly daunting — and about how hard it is to write, read, think and imagine the future right now.
Noor Naga's novel-in-verse Washes, Prays was published this spring. You can read more about it on Mada Masr and ArabLit.
Aziz Binebine's Tazmamart, Cellule 10 recently appeared in English as Tazmamart, translated by Lulu Norman. His brother Mahi Binebine's The King's Fool is forthcoming in Ben Faccini's translation in August.
Impostures is al-Hariri's classic Maqamat, many-Englished by Michael Cooperson and available now.
Mazen Kerbaj's coronavirus diaries are online at kerbajdiaries.com.
Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi is a classic of Italian literature and recounts a 17th century plague in Milan.
There has also been a fair amount of quarantine writing, such as the NYRB’s Pandemic Journal. The Point is publishing a series of articles on what we watch and read during quarantine.
Repression in Egypt continues even with covid-19. Alaa Abdel-Fattah went on a month-long hunger strike, Mada Masr editor Lina Attallah was detained and released on bail, and the latest to be targeted were a couple young (and apolitical) TikTok stars.
New Arabic Translation Challenges are published each Tuesday with roundups on Saturday. Details here or by following #ArabicTranslationChallenge on Twitter.