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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Overview on Recent Posts

November 16

by Suzan Abrams

My recent posts on modern Middle-Eastern literature peppered by a fair sprinkling of unusual regions relates to the theory of my passion and the eagerness to inform on different stories and people. Cafes, bookshops, literature and films among others form for this mystical glory.

I shy away from rehashed copycat quotes and stale stories that the world may have already read about and which 50 other blogs would have covered. Not unless I get there first or very early on. Otherwise, I prefer to write stories that few know of yet or to post book and cinematic reviews that not many readers/viewers may had access to.

Yes, there is a treasure trove of jewelled reads in the rare unspoken pages of a genius but obscure work of fiction, besides the usual mainstream titles that have been done to death.

The Arab literary world with its sensual classical and modern literature is a beautiful place to be. I would include Turkey, the Persian territories of Iran and sub-saharan Africa in my personal offing. Already, in the last year, the Middle East has fast come into its own. Dozens of newer contemporary writers have been signed on by publishers in the West and this with the exclusion of a vast amount of classical literature at large.

In the next few years, these writers writing in English or with translated works, are likely to be placed on par with writers from the Indian sub-continent in recognition and status. Arab writers have come out of their own worlds to embrace larger ones and will catch up very quickly. I would say give it another 2 to 3 years.

The Arab world is basically made up of 2 categories of literary individuals - the diaspora who live in the West and those settled in their homelands.

The difference between Arab writers and some major nationalities in Asia when it comes to writing stories on the rural heartland is that those mentioned in the former, are widely-travelled. This makes for all the difference. Perspectives broaden immensely. In their stories, poetry, plays and essays, they ask questions but never rant. The Middle-Easterners are also true raconteurs turning this skill into an extraordinary art form.

At this point of time, there are a lot of book events happening in the Arab world on an international platform. But writers in the Middle-East are often quiet and self-contained. The Arabs are a private people and most are reported in Arabic when it comes to book/literary blogs. With writers, all their energies are focussed on their art. They are hardly showy, flashy, flamboyant or boastful . As a result of this, unless you read media news reports, are unlikely to know what's going on although I believe that a few years from now, the limelight will focus on translated fiction from the Arab world among their modern writers as well as Arab writers living in the West and writing in English.