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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Region Nominations • November 2013
Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read for November 2013!
The category for this month is:
North Africa & The Middle East, as chosen in the poll & tie-breaker vote
This month is a two-part process:
The first part begins with a one-day poll to determine the region we will use. It is multiple choice and you may choose as many options as you like when voting. This voting is separate from your nominations. There are no nominations during the poll, only voting. I will not vote in the poll, and if there is a tie, I will break it.
As soon as the poll is over and the region is determined, then the second part (nominations) starts and you can begin nominating like normal. This will run for four days until 6th November. We no longer aim for a certain number of fully nominated works; rather, we now only aim for a certain length of time for nominations (four days).
Nominations can be set in any region, but they should be written by an author from that region.
-Regions are named in the poll and colour-coded on the map. Region names are generalities and not exact.
-If a country or territory is too small to show regional colour on the map, it will be part of the region closest to it physically and culturally. If you are unsure, just ask.
-I had help making the regions list that was much appreciated.
-Previously chosen regions currently ineligible:
Central Asia, East Europe & Russia
Canada & the U.S.A.
Once the poll is over and nominations begin:
In order for a work to be included in the poll it needs four nominations - the original nomination plus three supporting.
Each participant has four nominations to use. You can nominate a new work for consideration or you can support (second, third or fourth) a work that has already been nominated by another person.
To nominate a work just post a message with your nomination. If you are the first to nominate a work, it's always nice to provide an abstract to the work so others may consider their level of interest.
What is literature for the purposes of this club? A superior work of lasting merit that enriches the mind. Often it is important, challenging, critically acclaimed. It may be from ancient times to today; it may be from anywhere in the world; it may be obscure or famous, short or long; it may be a story, a novel, a play, a poem, an essay or another written form. If you are unsure if a work would be considered literature, just ask!
The floor is now open!
Nominations are now closed. Final nominations:
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Iran - Fully nominated
Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, Lebanon - Fully nominated
In favour - fantasyfan, Billi, sun surfer, Hamlet53
Omar Khayyám (1048-1131)
The Rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains using an aaba rhyme scheme examining aspects of life from an Epicurean, Fatalistic, and Agnostic point of view.
By far the most famous English translation of these remarkable poems is that of Edward Fitzgerald, first published in 1859 and later expanded in four further editions. It would seem that Fitzgerald was attracted to the dark life-view of the Persian poet and this shows in the brilliance of the translation.
Davis in his introduction to the poem describes it as “the most famous verse translation ever made into English. . . . In the 1953 edition of The Oxford Book of Quotations there are 188 excerpts from the Rubaiyat (of which 59 are complete quatrains)--this is virtually two-thirds of the total work. Not even Shakespeare or the Authorized Version of the Bible are represented by such massive percentages.”
Here’s a sample of it:
“Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate.
And many knots unravell’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.”
"Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wine
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
the Flower that once has blown for ever dies."
There are other translations, of course. But the Fitzgerald translation is freely available in Project Gutenberg, Many Books, Feedbooks, Amazon, Kobo etc.
A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, Israel - Fully nominated
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt - Fully nominated
In favour - issybird, sun surfer, Billi, fastasyfan
Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese-born writer who moved to France in his mid-twenties and writes in French although his first language is Arabic.
Leo Africanus is the
"imaginary autobiography of the famous geographer, adventurer, and scholar Hasan al-Wazzan, who was born in Granada in 1488. His family fled the Inquisition and took him to the city of Fez, in North Africa. Hasan became an itinerant merchant, and made many journeys to the East, journeys rich in adventure and observation. He was captured by a Sicilian pirate and taken back to Rome as a gift to Pope Leo X, who baptized him Johannes Leo. While in Rome, he wrote the first trilingual dictionary (Latin, Arabic and Hebrew), as well as his celebrated Description of Africa, for which he is still remembered as Leo Africanus." (Wikipedia)
NY Times Book Review:
Leo Africanus is a beautiful book of tales about people who are forced to accept choices made for them by someone else...It relates, poetically at times and often imaginatively, the story of those who did not make it to the New World.
Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela, Sudan - Fully nominated
In favour - paola, Bookpossum, Hamlet53, issybird
's Palace Walk
, which is the first book in his "Cairo Trilogy". Mahfouz got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988
, and is considered a towering figure in Arabic literature.
The trilogy chronicles the life of a family over three generations, with the first volume spanning from the short period of the Egyptian revolution against the Brits.
Blurb from Random house:
Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent epic trilogy of colonial Egypt appears here in one volume for the first time. The Nobel Prize—winning writer’s masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain’s occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.
The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons–the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. Al-Sayyid Ahmad’s rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mahfouz’s vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.
Throughout the trilogy, the family’s trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two World Wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, The Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller.
In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar, Libya - Fully nominated
In favour - paola, BelleZora, Billi, Bookpossum
Leila Aboulela Lyrics Alley
, couponable on Kobo. Originally written in English, though the writer was born in Egypt and raised in Sudan.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they've built for decades.
Their fortune threatened by shifting powers in Sudan and their heir's debilitating accident, a powerful family under the leadership of Mahmoud Bey is torn between the traditional and modern values of Mahmoud's two wives and his son's efforts to break with cultural limits.
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami, Morocco - Fully nominated
In favour - HomeInMyShoes, paola, Bookworm_Girl, Bookpossum
Link to Hisham Matar, the author
and here is what Goodreads says about the book:
Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie?
Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand—where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a portent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father’s cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend’s father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television.
In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace.
The Yacoubian Buidling by Alaa Al-Aswany, Egypt - Fully nominated
In favour - sun surfer, fantasyfan, issybird, Hamlet53
Lalami was born and raised in Morocco and now lives in the United States and writes in English. She became the first Moroccan author to publish a book of fiction written in English with a major commercial press in the United States.
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami's poetic debut, begins with the illegal journey of four Moroccans across the Strait of Gibraltar. Moments away from the shores of Spain, the boat capsizes and the passengers are forced to swim for their lives, and their freedom. What follows is an exploration of the pasts that led to this passage, and the futures that emerge from this voyage.
Less a novel than a series of biographical sketches, the book seems at times like a tease; Lalami does such a beautiful job creating her characters that readers will undoubtedly be left wanting more. Still, each portrait gives us a chance to not only engage with the character, but to gain an understanding of the religious, socio-economic, and emotional circumstances that compel each person to leave Morocco. Faten, a student who dons the hijab, is forced to flee when her religious beliefs start threatening the lives of influential educators. Murad, a serious, educated young man chances the crossing in search of a better life, where he doesn't have to hustle tourists to make a living. In each scene, Lalami bring Moroccan culture to life, from the tree-lined suburbs of Rabat to the Douar Lhajja slum, "where couscous pots were used as satellite dishes."
With Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Lalami creates a world that is both modern and traditional, hopeful and desperate, mournful and joyous.
In favour - HomeInMyShoes, issybird, paola, Hamlet53
The Yacoubian Buidling by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)
Originally Posted by GoodReads:
All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.
These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.
Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami, Syria - 1
In favour - HomeInMyShoes
Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami (Syria)
Originally Posted by GoodReads:
It is 1959, Damascus. The most famous storyteller in Damascus, Salim, the coachman, has mysteriously lost his voice. For seven nights, his seven old friends gather to break the spell with their seven different, unique stories -- some personal, some modern, some borrowed from the past. Against the backdrop of shifting Middle Eastern politics, Schami's eight characters, lost to the Arabian nights, weave in and out of tales of wizards and princesses, of New York skyscrapers and America. With spellbinding power, Schami imparts a luscious vision of storytelling as food for thought and salve for the soul, as the glue which holds our lives together.
The Plague by Albert Camus, Algeria - 2
In favour - sun surfer, BelleZora
A gripping tale of human unrelieved horror, of survival and resilience, and of the ways in which humankind confronts death, The Plague is at once a masterfully crafted novel, eloquently understated and epic in scope, and a parable of ageless moral resonance, profoundly relevant to our times. In Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, the plague begins as a series of portents, unheeded by the people. It gradually becomes a omnipresent reality, obliterating all traces of the past and driving its victims to almost unearthly extremes of suffering, madness, and compassion.
Last edited by sun surfer; 11-06-2013 at 01:26 AM.