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Two Reviews of ‘Snow in Amman’

Arabic Literature (in English)

A collection of Jordanian short stories (and two novel excerpts) is reviewed in the New York Daily News and on Arab Hyphen:

snowThe collection — Snow in Amman — brings together nine short stories by a varied collection of writers: Samir al-Sharif, Basma el-Nsour, Ahmed Abu Hleiwa, Magdalene Abu el-Rub, Asmaa al-Mallah, Manal Hamdi, Musa Abu Rayash, Khalid Yousef Abu Tamaa, and Julnar Zain. In addition, there are two chapters from celebrated author Elias Farkouh’s novel Asrar Sa’at Al Raml, or Secrets of the Hourglass.

The collection, brought out by Faraxa Publishing, was translated and edited by Ibtihal Mahmood and Alexander Haddad, and opens with an introduction by short-story writer Samir al-Sharif. As Arab Hyphen notes in her review, Jordan is not generally seen as a center of literary production, and this is one of the few Jordan-focused short-story collections available in English.

The collection has not just an unusual grouping…

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New in Print

I was very pleased when Diane De Bella chose one of my pieces for her anthology. Now it is available not only as ebook, but also in print.

For me, reason to do some advertisement here, because I always doubted I could get anything published in english language.

Thank you, Diane!

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Why So Many ‘Saving Muslim Women’ Book Covers?

Arabic Literature (in English)

It was last November that Adam Talib gave his talk about “Translating for Bigots,” and this May that Africa is a Country wrote about “The Dangers of a Single Book Cover.” There is a lot more to be said about how Arabic literature (in translation) is jacketed, and how this packaging affects how we experience books:

From a slide in the presentation "Translating for Bigots." From a slide in the presentation “Translating for Bigots.”

It’s not only six-year-old children who prefer the taste of foods that are packaged with licensed cartoon characters; adults also perceive a difference in the taste of potato chips depending on the colors on the bag. Although it seems that similar studies haven’t been done on dust jackets, surely it’s a small leap to believe that the outside of a book affects, at least in some way, how we perceive the contents.

That’s the theme — briefly discussed —…

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Hello again

Yes, back to school it was in October. I did the second level twice, because in winter, first time since I moved to Amman, I caught one bad cold after the other and dropped out at half term. In February, I restarted and now there is only one week left till the final exams. No matter the outcome, it was worth it, but it took more than I had anticipated. Five days a week, three hours – full hours – every morning and a teaching level that is meant to prepare students for entry in university within four semesters. Heavy on grammar, to a point that my arabic family has given up helping me. I enjoy it, although it was often overwhelming and I am all but sure how I will do next week. This morning, I should be studying, but it felt I also should get ready for what comes after that. Not the summer course with the third level, if ever I dare to try that one, I will need a better chance than I would have in the heat and with the month of Ramadan ahead. Maybe in October, or better February again. InshaAllah.

Due to my sickness I spent time cuddling under a blanket on the seat and managed to finish my 2013 NaNo project on time, rewarding me with a paid version of Scrivener. This will be a help to my next big one.

The NaNo project, actually counting close to 80K words, waits for editing during June and July. I chose a more simple story, crime, some interesting background, again in German. With some luck and a lot of work I hope this to be the first one that I will actually be able to publish – or to offer to a publisher, I am still debating with myself about self publishing or not.

August might see me in Europe – which will mean less time and concentration for new writing. But I might do some research for the new one, and maybe for a historical topic I have been playing with recently.

Enough of this talk, I should go back to my grammar. But I hope after this I will make myself blog more – here and on the German sites. Comments and questions are most welcome, I realized that I thrive on feedback.

Remember

Remember that  7th day of September. The dry sentence of the white clad doctor in the morning after the last test results came in. Carcinoma in the liver with metastasis growth in the lungs. Like this. No more.  Doctors seem to be cowards. No information about what will happen, how much time will we have left to love each other. Only – he will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow, no further treatment.

Looking at each other. Tears in both our eyes. Nothing left to do. One thing, only. One last trip. No, not home, not yet. A pilgrimage. Last hope? Maybe. Last comfort, for sure.

I plan, buy tickets,  pack, keep busy, hide my tears. Ten days pass like this.

We travel. No one sees us off. We share a cup of coffee on the airport-train. My love, who never drinks coffee because of his high blood pressure, has cold hands and needs this sip of caffeine today.

Heat receives us at the end of the flight, glaring sun but relative cool in the shade of the big white mosque that houses three graves under a green dome. I have to let him go to the other door and use the women’s entrance. I sit on the red carpet, listen to some ladies‘ soft recitation and smell the distinct scent of rose oil. In the quiet my heart twists and turns. The happiness I should feel in this place is buried under a thick cover of saltwater. I can hardly breathe, I anticipate the pain of a life without him.

Wherever we go, these thoughts linger in my brain. I look at his sleeping face in the evening, trying to imprint it in my memory. I listen to his soft breathing in the night – he used to snore heavily, but no more. The sudden silence sometimes wakes me up, I miss that sound that like a lullaby used to make me sleep.

Back home golden days of autumn see him get weaker too fast. Only the two of us at home, daily, nightly fight overshadowing the time we might use to take leave from each other. Come one morning, raindrops weep over the hospital’s windows like the tears on my face. He went to sleep forever without waking up again. No last word to say. Only a silent kiss on a cooling forehead.

Prayer for the dead in the yard of our small mosque. Rows and rows of friends and strangers. The women right and left give me strength. One hour more, then the flight will leave with his coffin aboard – but without me.

Remember that 7th September. One year later and I stand in a far country under high green trees. White marble in different forms – graves. Thousands of it, all ages, some just a mound of earth fixed with fist-sized stones. No date, no name. Like the one pointed out to me. I know who put the stones, one by one, with love and a heart full of tears and regrets. I can see his hands that look so much like his father’s  weeding out some plants so they will not destroy the mount.

The heat makes drops of sweat run into my eyes, they mix with my tears. I want to sit down here in the shade of the trees and never again leave.

(This text was first published in the fall edition 2013 of “When Women Waken”. According to their policy I can republish it here. )

Remember

 

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Tears and smiles

I neglected my blog – my studies went well, but took a lot of time, Ramadhan was taking lots of my energy and we had visitors for six weeks – wonderful, but a three-year-old can change the whole life of a house.

And, at first, I was still waiting for my grey shadow. But Miss Grey did not come back, no one had seen her – neither alive nor dead. Was she kidnapped? Or had she had an accident and hidden somewhere to die? Not knowing it makes me still sad.

But then, August came and two of our young nephews turned up. They love cats very much, but are not allowed to keep one – father has an allergy and mother is very particular about cleanliness. But still, when they had come to her with a baby-cat, maybe six or eight weeks old at that time, she fed it, gave it a shower and tried to find a new home for it. When the neighbors who took it in at first gave it back, the boys called us. And here was this empty space, food and water dishes unused since four weeks – we could not say no. At first, we attempted to keep it only temporary, but after a few days the little guy had taken over our hearts. Other than our capricious ladies before he is soft, unobtrusive, even when hungry. For the six weeks our grandson was here, they were best friends and playmates, it turned out that our new cat is babysafe – he might play rough with my husband or me, but never with the very young ones, does not even sniff at the two-year-old when he pulls his tail a little.

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I love his surprised look.

And so, now, after all these events and also past Eid-al-Adha, the biggest muslim holiday during the past week, we will be back to normal – inshaAllah, if not anything else will bring new changes.

From tomorrow back to school – but that is a new chapter.

Quotes

You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings.-Anais Nin

I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live — Martin Luther King Jr.