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The gorilla

The Tunisian revolution as it could have happened - and finally did. A gripping, humorous and poetic story revolving around a single man.

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The King of Galilee

The story of Zaher Al Omar who fought the Ottoman Empire for independence in the 18th c. A captivating historical epic.


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FICTION The Gorilla Al Ghorilla K. Al Riahi Dar al saqi, Beirut, 2011 190 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. Dar al saqi. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. All rights available. AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF file of the original Arabic version.

BIO Kamal Al Riahi is Tunisian journalist and novelist. SOME OTHER WORKS ‘Al mushret’, ‘Nouwares al thakira’, ‘Souriqa wajhi’ and several literary studies. Many of his works were translated into several languages. REMARKS Al Riahi was selected among the 39 authors of the Beirut 39, Hay Festival in 2009. His novel ‘Al Mushret’ won the Golden Komar prize of the best novel in Tunisia in 2007.

| SUMMARY It's a warm August afternoon. A man has climbed up the metal tower clock in central Tunis. The tower clock was erected in the center of the city by the current president Ben Ali, after the preceding President Bourguiba had passed away, and his statue removed. Climbing up the clock is forbidden, and this man has defied the restriction, waving to the crowd that gathered beneath him. He is Saleh, known as The Gorilla. A black man, an orphan, who grew up in the countryside and worked as a guardian of the deceased President Bourguiba's tomb. People he's had ties with recognize him, staring up the clock or on their television screens. Even the vicious police officer Ali Kilab (Ali The Dogs) recognizes him and sees in his presence up on the metal tower a great opportunity to take him down, take him in and eventually kill him. During the hours of The Gorilla's holding on to the tower clock, despite the electric chocks Ali Kilab sends him through the metal frame of the tower, the city is in ebullition. Something big is coming, a wave of discontent fed with fear and misery. The novel's timeframe is set between The Gorilla reaching the top of the tower, and the dramatic fall, followed by the calcination of his body -- a clear allusion to the historical event that started the Tunisian uprising in December 2010. During this time, a patchwork of characters and stories is

rhythmically woven chapter after chapter, until all the pieces fall into place, and an almost complete landscape unfolds before the readers' eyes. The novel has a weblike structure. It holds in its center the main character at the top of the tower clock, where it all starts and ends. From that central and emblematic figure, each chapter goes in a different direction in time and in space, following the story of one of the multiple characters that all take part in the final revolutionary scene. The Gorilla, as many of the other characters, was involved in an aborted coup. Al Riahi succeeds in creating a captivating atmosphere, partly violent, partly ludicrous with hints of strangeness that give it all a dreamlike feel. He depicts with great wit and a beautifully colorful and modern language a drifting Tunisian society. There is something extremely human and likable about The Gorilla. And his terrible death, although expected and ineluctable, resounds with a deep sadness.

| T R A N S L A T I O N E X C E R P T : E N G L I SH Peter Clark - Emerging Voices, Saqi books, 2011

Do you still see him recalling that day on which he took on the epithet “gorilla”? For more than thirty years the gorilla used to pause in front of the picture of Bourguiba smiling. It was there on the wall above the sandwich stall. He was smiling to him, waving at him with his white hand, the other hand holding a sprig of jasmine. The child gorilla below would chew at half a chunk of bread filled with harisa and sardine. His shirt was spattered with drops of oil as the man above smiled a smile that was like an open wound. Sparkling white. His hair was white. His smile was white. The palm of his hand was white. Even his suit was white. The oil with the smell of sardine trickled down the shirt of the little gorilla. Terrible feelings simultaneously of pride and self-disgust then coursed through him like two raging bulls, as he examined his own identity, turning it round and round like a strange coin. On the one hand he is the child of the most important man in the country and this idea makes him look up to that the man in the picture looking down on palaces, gardens, enclosures, meat and fruit. On the other hand he is of no known family and that he is no son, not even of a rat or a donkey, and that he dropped, new-born, into a pile of straw and was smothered by oil and sardine, and shame. He melts into a white smile like the skull of a man who has never

been heard of. He is simply one of the many children of Bourguiba. When he was accused for the first time in his village of being one of the “children of Bourguiba” he gave a broad grin just like Bourguiba, as if he was confirming his parentage. But he did not smile after that when other words were hurled at him, such as pisser, bastard, foundling, whoreson. He then saw Bourguiba’s teeth as if they were the fangs of some wild beast advancing towards him to crush his bones. That day he ran away from the playground to the cemetery where he stood and wept at his father’s grave. He shouted and cursed until he lost his voice, as if he had dropped it down a deep well. Can you see him today as he remembers unzipping his pants and drenching the grave with hot piss? How much humiliation did he feel after that? That evening he sat with his fair sister watching his “new” father giving his daily speech – “Directives of His Excellency the President” – on the black and white television screen. The screen made those two words – black and white – resemble each other. He realised that his sister was another adopted daughter. She was as white as milk whereas he was as black as charcoal.

| PRESS | Elie Abdo Al-Akhbar, October 2011 We did not yet read a literary work, be it novel, poetry or theater, that would question creative writing, in style and substance, in the light of a new reality produced by the Arab revolutions... Perhaps the novel by the Tunisian writer and journalist Kamal Al Riahi, «The gorilla» (Dar al Saqi) fall in this category. The novel surprises the reader as soon as page one.

A L R I A H I, T H E G O R I L L A P 2/2



ALWAN Mohammed Hasan

Beavers Al qundos M.H. Alwan Dar al saqi, Beirut, 2011 319 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. Dar al saqi RAYA agency represents this title for world rights. Sold rights. All rights available. AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF of the novel, in Arabic. French translation sample. English translation sample. REMARKS Alwan’s short story was featured in The Guardian, 2011.

BIO Born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabi in 1979, Alwan completed a BA in Computer information systems in Saudi Arabia, before obtaining a MA in Business administration in Portland, Oregon. He currently lives in Saudi Arabia. SOME OTHER WORKS Enough is enough (2002), Sophia (Dar al saqi, 2004), The choker of decency (2007).

│ SUMMARY An strikingly accurate and honest portrait of a Saudi bourgeois family in contemporary Riyadh. A man in his mid forties, Ghaleb sits on the side of a river in Oregon, pretending to fish as he thinks back on the life he just left in Saudi Arabia. He observes a friendly beaver. Beavers remind Ghaleb of his family. With their big wet eyes, like those of his mother, the greedy hands of his half brother. They stick to each other and build dams, exactly like members of his family are stuck together... leaving him out of the flock. Ghaleb is not a beaver. Born from a first failed marriage, Ghaleb is the family’s loser. Son of a seemingly powerful man in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Ghaleb does not live up to his father’s expectations. Appreciated by his step mother, he is nevertheless not considered as a brother by the siblings born from his father’s second marriage, let alone respected like an eldest brother should be. His own mother despises him for being his father’s son. Ghaleb refused to work with his father, he had other aspirations in life: writing a sociology PhD thesis, marrying the only woman he ever loved, being happy. But he failed at everything that mattered. Expelled from university, he never completed his studies. His father being originally from the countryside, he was not seen as worthy enough to

ask for Ghada’s hand, who married a diplomat instead. He was just good enough to be a secret and forever hungry lover she would satisfy with a fast meeting in different cities of the world. For years, Ghaleb has been escaping through travel. He’d hop into a plane and go anywhere, as far as possible from his family, whenever he needed to breath. But this time is different. This time, Ghaleb wants out. Somewhat like a teenager in need of attention, he waits for his family to miss him, knowing this will never happen. From a safe distance, he looks upon his past life with some tiredness, but mostly a crystal clear mind. Even his twenty year long affair with Ghada is called into question, as she shows up in an unexpected visit. He will go back to Riyadh a few months later only to attend his father’s funeral. Beavers is the vivid portrait of a recently enriched family in Riyadh, and a very lucid look on family in general: misunderstandings, disappointments, deceptions, money, relations of power, resentment and petty fights. Through Ghaleb’s recent exile and his memories, the reader gets a substantial grasp of the Saudi society, Even more powerful, the narrator’s extremely sharp and honest assessments.


| TRANSLATION SAMPLE Peter Clark - Emerging voices, Saqi books 2011


There was a mirror in my apartment, so small that I sometimes had to wave to it to capture its attention. I’d chosen one this size, just big enough for a quick shave, and hung it low down, so my face wouldn’t catch me by surprise. When I looked at it, it would reflect one side of my jaw and I would shave it. Then I would turn round, so that the other side came into view, and I’d shave that, then lift my head so that my upper lip and part of my nose appeared, and I’d shave there too. Then I would wash my face and flee from the bathroom like a prisoner fleeing a silent interrogation cell. With a woman in my apartment, the mirror would have been bigger. Mirrors for me raised awkward and persistent

questions, like coming face to face with an old rival you haven’t seen for years. That was why I had picked out a small and insignificant mirror, so that it wouldn’t besiege me with questions bigger than myself that I couldn’t answer. As I carried it out of the IKEA store, full of young couples trying to set up cheap love-nests, I thought to myself that it would do for a quick glance before going out, for people who deserved to see a better face than mine. It was never going to play any larger role in my life, anyway. My face truly was a distorted map. It was a piece of parchment on which a crazed ruler had drawn the lands he had conquered and the history he had made, only to be smudged in the rain. The scars that the boys of the alMurabba’ neighborhood had inflicted on my left eyebrow were mixed up with those that my father had scattered at random on my temples, forehead and chin. The grass that grew there when my bedroom window looked East over a deserted palace courtyard in al-Nasiriyya mingled with the climbing plants that shielded my eyes from the midday heat of al-Fakhiriyya, when the sun would break into every Riyadh house, hitting the residents in the face.

| PRESS | Elie Abdo Al Akhbar, November 2011 The Saudi novelist Mohammed Hassan Alwan in his new novel «Beavers» (Dar Al Saqi) stays away from the clichés of the Saudi literature. His novel does not get into the topics of women’s hardships, social repression, the influence of religious traditions, and political repression, dominating most of the new Saudi writings… Ghalib, Ghada, Badriya, Salman and the other characters, live the consequences of many of the disadvantages of the Saudi society. But this does not appear in the narrative directly, or in a crude discourse, as much as it appears in the behavior of the characters and their emotions… Alwan sought to dissolve information in the text, within a coherent narrative structure, using an aesthetic language, without it being rhetorical, however.

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The king of Galilee Qanadil malek al jalil I. Nasrallah Dar al arabiya li al ouloum, Beirut, 2011 555 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author RAYA agency represents this title for world rights. Sold rights. All rights available. AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF of the novel, in Arabic. REMARKS Nasrallah’s novel ‘The time of white horses’ was shortlisted for the IPAF (Arab Man Booker Prize) 2009.

BIO Born in 1954 in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Ibrahim Nasrallah worked as a journalist for 18 years before dedicating himself to writing in 2006. Cinema is a great influence on his work, and he eventually published two books of film critique. A poet as well as a novelist, he won the Sultan Owais Award, the most prestigious award of poetry in the Arab world. SOME OTHER WORKS Nasrallah has published more than 11 novels. Some of which are: Prairies of fever (1985) -- translated into English (Interlink, 1993), Italian ( Edizioni Lavoro, 2001). Danish edition by Underskoven in 2006 -- Shame (2010). The time of white horses (2007) -- translated into English (AUC, 2011).

│ SUMMARY The story of Zaher al Omar, who fought the Ottoman Empire for indpendence in the 18th century. A captivating epic tale. Zaher al Omar al Zaydani is the youngest son of a tax collector for the Ottoman Empire, Omar al Zaydani, born and raised in Tiberias, Galilee, in 1689. When Omar al Zaydani dies, Zaher is a young man of about 15. All of Omar’s sons, Saad, Yusef, Saleh and Zaher, gather in order to decide who will take over the father’s role. The eldest son, Saad, should normally inherit this postition, but is hesitant. No one wants to be the tax collector, since it is a risky business to collect taxes and keep the often capricious governors satisfied, at the same time, it is clearly a sign of power, and should stay in the family since it is a considerable source of wealth. They decide to leave this decision to fate. They each light an oil lamp. The first man whose oil lamp dies out will be the new tax collector. Zaher’s fate is decided on this long night following his father’s decease, when his lamp dies out, and he is designated the new tax collector. Zaher embraces his new role fully, thereby frustrating his older brothers who thought he would carry the burden of collecting taxes but at the same time, be easy for them to manipulate. Zaher is the witness to horrifying injustices resulting from the

unquestionable authority of the governors. He decides to pay the taxes that are due to the Empire, but prevent the governors of Sidon, then Damascus, from abusing and humiliating the population. Zaher’s vision is that of an independent and peaceful country that would rule itself. It is the start of a life of struggle, full of wars, strategies, intrigues, and plotting, the aim of which is to take as much freedom as possible from the Empire and maintain stability. Zaher al Omar is an important historical figure, emblematic of resistance and independence. The novel gets into the epic details of Zaher’s quest for independence, depicting the different schemes he got into, in order to secure the success of his enterprise, but also the tensions around him, the jealousies, and finally the treasons, that will put an end to his life. The novel, written like a tale is told, is divided into short chapters, each of which focuses on one particular event, making the reading of this thick historical book an enjoyable and captivating experience. Apart from the accurate historical events and characters, the book abounds in details of Zaher’s peculiar and admirable personality, as well as many references to the time’s customs, economics and politics.


| PRESS | Ahmad Rafiq Awad Al-ayam al-filistiniya, February 2012 I must admit the great pleasure that the novel 'King of Galilee' gave me. Over 560 pages events followed each other, hearts and destinies fluctuated, as Ibrahim Nasrallah's pen flowed with narrative creativity, making use of color, smell and sound, weaving together poetry and wisdom, history and drama. I have to admit that I read an amazing novel by a great master, artist and researcher. The string of passion and tension is maintained throughout the novel, despite what the author is best known for, these short chapters with long titles, that are a mix between the density of poetry, and the heat of the short story. The novelist also combines forms of narrative and of visual scenes. These short successive chapters may be full of poetry and tension, but they also have something of cinema in that it keeps the thread of the drama connected, and grabs the attention of the reader… Ibrahim Nasrallah is a great writer. A master of this art.

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IN THE CROSSFIRE Syrian revolution diaries

YAZ B E K Samar

DOCUMENT In the cross fire: Syrian revolution diaries Taqatoo niran: yawmiyat al intifada al suriya S. Yazbek, 2012 (to appear) 50,000 words

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. French (Buchet Chastel, to appear). German (Hanser, Nagel & Kimche, 2012). Engish (Haus publishing, to appear) AVAILABLE MATERIAL Arabic text, PDF Detailed summary of Part One. French translation of three chapters. English translation of one chapter.

BIO Born in 1970 in Jable, in the Alaouite region of Syria, Samar Yazbek studied literature before beginning her career as a journalist and a script writer for Syrian television and cinema. SOME OTHER WORKS Child of Heaven (2002). Clay (2005). Cinnamon (2008). In her mirrors (2010).

REMARK One chapter was featured in The Guardian (03.08.2011)

| PRESENTATION A unique account of the ongoing Syrian uprising. In this document, Samar Yazbek offers a precise and personal account of the Syrian uprising, started in March 2011. The book covers the uprising’s first 5 months. Samar Yazbek describes her experience of the events as they unfold on the ground, and the exceptional pressures she was subjected to. She meets with released detainees, records their testimony, and explains who the revolutionaries are, where they come from, how they got organized. With her usual finesse and minuteness, Samar recounts the horrors of violence. ‘I will only believe my own eyes’ is the precept that motivates her actions. As soon as she hears the rumors of a protest and the consequent repression, she books a taxi and goes on the ground, looking for a confirmation. She discusses with the protesters, the villagers, and sometimes even the policemen and militaries, trying to shed some light on the incidents. Week after week, she records the events. Each chapter is a detailed account of the rumors she was able to verify in person, of information she was able to take from the medias or from close friends, and events she experienced.

Written in the first person, this text is a unique and precise document of the popular uprising in Syria, where, today still, international media has a limited access. Literary but simple and fluent, her writing style powerfully vehicles emotion, images and information. It also gives a palatable voice to the text. The reader easily slip into the narrator’s shoes, as she slowly opens for us a window on exceptionally violent and complex events. Document structure ONE The protests Samar Yazbek describes the events: protests, repression, rumors, murders, arrests. TWO Facing the regime Samar Yazbek details the retaliations she was personally subjected to. THREE Encounter with political dissidents The author meets with political detainees who were released and records their testimony. FOUR The revolution on the ground As she decides to work with the revolutionaries, Samar Yazbek explains how the revolution was possible and who the revolutionaries are.


| TRANSLATION SAMPLE Taken from Part Two, translated into English by Peter Theroux, published in The Guardian on 03.08.2011

Two huge men entered the room. They stood in readiness, in plainclothes. One of them stood to the right and the other to the left. With a signal from his eyes, each of them seized me by the shoulders, though not roughly. They seized me as if I were some object, easy for them to move. I did not resist when they started to lift me out of my chair. I even stood up, surprised at what was happening. Would they finally arrest me, putting this nightmare to an end? That would be easier on me than this madness. He gave the officer a jaunty look, and I looked at him not knowing what was next. I tried to read some good news in their eyes, body movements, and demeanor. Talk doesn’t interest me. He was neutral, looking some spot in the spacious room. The two of them put a band of cloth over my eyes, or that is what I assumed, because my world suddenly went black. Moments later, I was blindfolded, scenting a strange smell from the cloth. A strong arm seized me, an arm sure of its grasp of my elbow, of its push and pull. It moved sluggishly. Then I straightened up and shouted, “Where are you taking me?” He answered calmly, and I heard a certain buzz. “For a little drive, to improve your writing.” I was certain they had decided to arrest me; that admission was preferable to the alternative, and an end to all the operations of the madness he had delighted in torturing me with for days. I pretended to be composed, wanting to attest that what happened a month ago, and even now just a nightmare I would awake from at any moment. It was less than two minutes; all these thoughts passed faster than that, because I would have collapsed had it not been for the man on the right and the other to the left moving me along, which they were still doing with fastidious calm. They must have been ordered to do that, but when I almost fell and they caught me, I knew we were going down some stairs. One of them slackened on me it appeared the staircase was narrow. I tried to peek around the blindfold, but it was firm and tight. My breathing grew tighter; I felt we had descended several flights. I was not sure, but a nausea started to rack my body, and rotten smells mingled with odors I had never smelled before. At last we stopped. A burning pain shot up my lower back and

I shivered. I knew my fragile body. A hand undid the blindfold from my eyes. I did not expect what awaited me to be horrible, despite everything I had read about the world of prisons, I tried to write about what I had heard and imagined, but all that meant nothing the moment I opened my eyes. There was a long passage. I could scarcely see the cells lining it; I could scarcely believe this was a real place and not a space in my mind, sick from writing. This was real! A passage down which two persons could barely pass side by side, the far end enveloped in blackness. A passage bereft of faces, I looked behind me and saw nothing, and before me was utter blackness. A passage with no beginning or end, suspended in nothingness, with me in the middle, and closed doors. The man standing before me opened one of the doors. A sharp buzz started quickly and then ended with slow beats, sad beats like a melody I heard one day in a Greek bar. One of the men grasped my elbow and pushed me further in, and kept holding my arm and the open door, and there … I saw them. It was a cell scarcely big enough for two or three to stand in. I could not see clearly, but I made out three bodies hanging there, I did not know how! I was bewildered and felt that I held my cheeks with my jaw, and my stomach began to convulse. The three bodies were nearly naked. There was a dim light seeping in from somewhere. I did not know whether there was an opening in the ceiling, but it was transformed into feeble rays for enough vision to discern that they were youths of no more than twenty years old or in their early twenties. Their fresh young bodies were clear beneath the blood. They were suspended from their hands in steel handcuffs, and their toes barely touched the floor. Blood streamed down their bodies, fresh blood, dried blood, deep bruises visible on their bodies like the blows of a random blade. Their faces looked down; they were unconscious, and they swayed to and fro like slaughtered animals.

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FICTION Under the Copenhagen sky Tahta sama’ Copenhagen H. Al Nadawi Dar al saqi, Beirut, 2010 392 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. Dar al saqi RAYA agency represents this title for world rights. Sold rights. Danish rights (C&K Forlag, to appear). AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF of the novel, in Arabic. REMARKS Under the Copenhagen sky is longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Arab Man Booker) 2012.

BIO Born in Bagdad in 1984, Al-Nadawi flees to Denmark with her family at age 7. She starts engineering studies, interrupts them, and moves to London with her family at 20. She is now a student of linguistics and lives in London. SOME OTHER WORKS Under the Copenhagen sky is her first novel.

|SUMMARY Hoda, in her early twenties, has written her story in Danish and contacts Rafed via e-mail, an Iraqi translator also living in Denmark in his late thirties, for him to translate her work into Arabic. She says she’s met him before, but he won’t remember. Resisting her at first, Rafed, as he translates her work, slowly falls obsessively in love with her. Hoda and Rafed’s stories, although different, mirror each other. Independent at first, their paths will intersect. Hoda was born in Copenhagen, daughter to an intellectual man and a liberated woman, who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime and sought political asylum in the early eighties. Speaking Danish as her mother tongue, Hoda does not at first realize she is different from her blond classmates. With time, as she reaches early adolescence, all of her contrasting being will make her feel that this is not her land, it is ‘their’ land, these heirs of the Vikings. Unknowingly living a deep identity crisis, Hoda is trying to understand who she is. A task made even more difficult by the changes taking place around her. Her mother, moved by a deep longing for her homeland, influenced by the new wave of immigrants in the early nineties, gets close to the circle of conservative Iraqis. From a secular and liberated woman, Hoda’s mother turns into a traditionalist, hanging embroidered verses of the Quran at home, and most importantly wearing the veil, and imposing it upon her daughters as well.

As he discover Hoda’s past, Rafed’s passion swells, a story told in alternating chapters. Addicted to her story at first, and to the young girl he reads about, his infatuation for the author gets more and more intense. Living an ordinary, somewhat dull married life, Rafed feels trapped. Like all immigrants, including Hoda, Rafed also desperately looked for some reference point in his new home. He thought he had found it in Chaza, a young Danish woman born from Iraqi parents. But the gap between them is wide: She is a second generation immigrant, while he is from the first. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Hoda’s writing is nothing bu a long love letter to Rafed, whom she met years ago, when she was a shy invisible teen-ager. It is also a love letter to Copenhagen, the city of all possibilities, which the young woman sometimes hated when she felt rejected, but has learned to make hers and love. Hawra Al-Nadawi’s first novel is a clever insight into the complexity of immigrants’ lives. Their difficult relations to each other, to different generations of immigrants, to the country that hosts them, to the country they left and to its values which they almost sanctify. Revolving around the intricate issue of identity, the novel nevertheless remains first and foremost, the story of a girl trying to define herself.


| PRESS | Excerpt from a piece published in Politiken, December 2011 Escape from Iraq That day in 1991 when Hawra al Nadawi’s father was arrested for the last time she was six years old. It was just after the Gulf War, and she stood with her cousin in front of the family’s house in Baghdad when a car with two men stopped in front of them. “Won’t you call your father?” Said one of the men, pointing at her. He was commonly dressed, so she thought he was one of her father’s friends, and ran in to fetch him (…) When, without explanation, he was released three months later, he fled first, and then the whole family, to Denmark. In 1992 they moved into an apartment in Kisumparken in Brøndby Strand. The dilemma Hawra al-Nadawi points up on the first floor of a low level of housing built in the early 1970s. Up there behind an orange sash is her old room. There she wrote the first four chapters of her first book about the Danish-born Iraqi girl Huda, who meets the older Iraqi Rafid who has fled from Baghdad. An initiation novel where the protagonist is not just struggling with the transition from child to adult, but also with his own national identity. “Her biggest dilemma is that she is both Dane and Iraqi. She has never been to Iraq and she has never seen anything other than Denmark. Yet she is not Danish. She feels neither the one nor the other, ” says Hawra al-Nadawi about her protagonist. She states that the book is not autobiographical. But this dilemma she has always lived with herself. “I’ve never felt neither Iraqi, Dane, or for that matter, Kurd or English. I am a bit of everything, “she says. Yet she feels more at home here in Brøndby Strand, than she does in London or Iraq, where her father moved in 2003 to work for the new government. “I do not feel safe in Iraq. And I’m not really accustomed to London yet. If I have children, I could well imagine that they would grow up here, “she says.

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Napolitana H. Chouman Dar al-Adab, Beirut, 2010 153 pages

Sold rights. All rights are available.

BIO Hilal Chouman was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982. He works as a social media strategist in a telecom company. Hilal has published several short stories in dailies and cultural supplements, where he also occasionally contributes as a journalist.

AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF file of the Arabic original.

SOME OTHER WORKS The story I was told in my sleep (Malamih, Cairo, 2008)

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title, except for Italian.

| SUMMARY Set in Beirut of the year 2010, Napolitana is a modern successful mix of fresh air, smartness and gravity. “How can a girl with whom I was for a long while, leave me, get married and have a child within a year?” Napolitana’s main character wonders. Haitham is an almost depressed, unhappy, anti-hero in his late twenties, living in the confined space of his room and his computer screen. Having come across his ex girlfriend at the landmark Napolitana pizza place on Hamra street in Beirut, with her husband and child, he is pushed further away from self confidence. It is in such circumstances, during a party, that Haitham allegedly meets Yumna, a woman in her mid forties with who he will have an affair. This affair remains a very private matter, as none of his two only friends, the couple Hani and Amal, would ever think it possible for him to go on such an adventure, let alone seduce an older and attractive woman. While a friend of Hani’s, a strange bond ties Haitham to Amal. She finds comfort in his unthreatening presence. He is almost unknowingly attracted to her, obsessed as he is with the beauty spot on her neck. With this constellation of three women, the reality of which sometimes tends to fade away as it cristallizes in blurred dreams, behind windows, or in snapshots publihsed on facebook, Haitham’s universe is sealed. His life oscillates between the web, where he very attentively

follows the blog of an unknown young man, and these women, who sometimes seem more fantasized than real. Some sense of urgency, perhaps Haitham’s deep dissatisfaction with himself -- his chicken legs and sloppy belly, his boyish harmless looks and his being invisible to the outside world -- will drive him to shatter this world of his into pieces. A destruction that strangely coincides with the dissapearance of his virtual friend’s blog. In this sense, Napolitana is a novel of initiation revisited, with a bold modern fabric. Haitham is not a loveable character, but he is extremely real, and the reader relates to him with great ease. Chouman with his exquisite and unique voice, positions himself as well as his work very clearly in post-war Lebanon. The book is an interesting balance between the implicit deep existential anguish of a thirty year old, and the futility of his personal drama. There is no tragedy here, just a subtle hint of gravity that comes with the uneasiness of growing up and will lead to an even lonelier, but perhaps also more confident, main character. Chouman’s writing is indeed positively modern, using short, straightforward yet surprisingly poetic sentences. Integrating very naturally references to technology and English idioms into a beautifully fluent Arabic, Chouman succeeds in re-creating very accurately the atmosphere of Beirut in the year 2010, at it is lived by its youth.


| PRESS Chapters of Napolitana were published in leading Arab literary supplements (Akhbar al adab, Cairo; Al Safir al thaqafi, Beirut) The book was adapted into a short film sequence by Mazaj TV.

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Chased away Charid al-Manazel J. Douaihy Dar an-Nahar, Beirut, 2010

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. Italian (Feltrinelli, to appear). French (Actes Sud, to appear). AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF file of the original Arabic version. REMARK. This title is shortlisted for the Arab Booker Prize (IPAF), that will be awarded in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in March 2012

| SUMMARY What if you were born a Muslim, and brought up a Christian? What room is there for people who do not choose sides? Born to a modest Muslim family of Tripoli, Lebanon, in the early sixties, Nizam Al Aalmi, couldn’t suspect that the unconditional love that an old and rich Christian couple had for him would change the course of his life. When the civil war broke in Beirut in 1975, the handsome 20 year old man found himself in an impossible situation. An ordinary man, enjoying his youth and the wonders of a busy city, he did not have a cause, nor did he wish to fight. Born a Muslim, brought up a Christian, and finally baptized at the age of 17, he didn’t naturally belong to any side. Trapped in the growing madness of the civil war, this poetic character is destined to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He ends up losing his life at the hands of a Muslim militia, convinced that he was a Christian. Douaihy’s sense of irony strikes the reader once again. Nizam’s loss of his life is the simple result of a series of unrelated events, circumstances and coincidences. ‘But isn’t that just what life is?’ Douaihy seems to say. In this novel, irony is also defined by the contrast between the light heartedness, dreams and illusions of the leftist revolutionary youth in the sixties, who

BIO Jabbour al-Douaihy is born in 1949, in Zgharta, a town of north Lebanon. He achieved his doctoral studies in literature in France, and is today a professor of French literature at the Lebanese University of Tripoli. SOME OTHER WORKS Ayn Warda, translated into French (Actes Sud, 2010); June Rain, 2006, French (Actes Sud, 2010), Italian (Feltrinelli, 2010), German (Hanser, to appear) ; Rayya-of-the-river; Autumn Equinox, translated into English (Arkansas Press, USA). REMARKS June rain was shortlisted for the Arab Booker Prize (IPAF) awarded in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2008

are taken by surprise and completely unsettled by the crude, unimaginable and meaningless violence of civil war. A dramatic shift of weight structures the novel and splits it into two halves: before and after 1975. Even a dead man Nizam is a disturbing puzzle: where to burry him? Following what rite? Deeper ones, barely disguised, underwrite these pragmatic questions: Who is Nizam? Is he a Muslim young man? A Christian? This apparently simple question cannot in this case be easily answered. Can it ever? What does it mean to be a Muslim? A Christian? One of the author’s recurrent themes, cultural and personal identity, here, once again, leads the story and is developed through Nizam’s tragedy, with the help of half a dozen of characters, friends, family and lovers. Olga, the young attractive and extravagant Russian landlord; Yusra, the passionate activist and violent mistress; Jinan, the true love, fragile and hopeless; Vasco, the Christian bourgeois, leftist at heart, stuck on his wheel chair; Maysaloun, the loving and caring older sister; Khaled, the religious and intolerant younger brother; Raffoul, the miserable hotel owner. All ordinary people living an ordinary life, to which the reader identifies so easily, that the possibility of such violence and injustice seems even more unbelievable.


| PRESS | Mazen Maaroud, Annahar, January 2011: “Jabbour Douaihy’s “Chased away” is a reservoir of events and problematics, served to us in the form of fiction. It deserves to be read out loud... Douaihy is the only one to have explored the question of sectarian “differences”, in order to weave an impressive literary ground on its basis, which carries out the existential “difference” of a single individual.” | Talal Khoja, Annahar, January 2011: “Jabbour Douaihy’s recent novel, from the perspective of an old leftist, represents an important opportunity to rediscover ourselves through and enjoyable, useful and influential read. I believe I wasn’t the only one who shed a few tears when Nizam was killed, and when none of his two worlds would welcome his remains. We all are still looking for him.” | Mona Fayad, Annahar, December 2011: “Jabbour Douaihy’s transparent writing style, namely in the description of nature, reminds me with the greatness of Japanese novels: “he contemplates the purple walnut tree, the sun piercing through, making its green leaves transparent, engulfing them in the dust of a delicate gleam, which spreads out a long thread of light across the garden”. | Melhem Chaoul, Annahar, January 2011: “In the absence of rules, and in this mortuary carnival, lives -or tries to liveNizam. He is the product of social differences and of vagary. He is the Other. Nizam is the opposite of the Lebanese paradigm. Outside the constants, outside the fixed references, Nizam is a traveler of these compelling identities, a transient passerby, a mere spectator of history who does not try to take control, does not face its events, and in a perhaps deliberate naivete, mocks its absurdity.” | Inaya Jaber, Assafir, January 2012:” An overwhelmingly prodigious imagery, is one of the features of Jabbour Douaihy's writing style. The story, characters, secrets are in the novel's structure. Words are austere, and the silence wide, but here, the strict structure is that of the facts, with their sharp angles and implications.”

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June rain Matar Hzayran J. Douaihy Dar an-Nahar, Beirut, 2006 325 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. French (Actes Sud, 2010), Italian (Feltrinelli, 2010); German (Hanser, to appear), English (Bloomsbury Qatar, to appear) AVAILABLE MATERIAL Complete translation, French. PDF file of the original Arabic version.

BIO Jabbour al-Douaihy is born in 1949, in Zgharta, a town of north Lebanon. He achieved his doctoral studies in literature in France, and is today a professor of French literature at the Lebanese University of Tripoli. SOME OTHER WORKS Chased away, translated into Italian (Feltrinelli, to appear); Ayn Warda, French (Actes Sud, 2010); Rayya-of-the-river; Autumn Equinox, translated into English (Arkansas Press, USA). REMARKS June rain was shortlisted for the Arab Booker Prize (IPAF) awarded in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2008

| SUMMARY Inspired by a true story, this novel goes over the universal tale of a bloody revenge, set in the northern Lebanon of the 1950’s. Northern Lebanon, June 1957. The novel is set in the aftermaths of a planned shooting that took the life of dozens of male members of the al-Semaani clan, and occurred in the church of Burj al-Hawa. The novel starts off on the afternoon of the shooting. It carefully and quietly lays down the story’s very dramatic context: Children are hurried back home from school. Nobody dares tell them what had happened. They, along with the reader, only sense the extent of the drama in the silence that accompanies them in the school bus, and welcomes them in the village. The shootings’ aim was purely political, but its consequences were a social disaster. Both clans live in the same very small town, its streets tightly intertwined. The alSemaani clan however, lives mainly on one side of the central road, while the al-Rami clan lives on the other. For years, this road will be perceived by the town’s inhabitants as a green line no one was allowed to cross, except for the priest. As violence escalated, an intestine war was triggered. Snipers were posted on both sides, and in the typical logic of the Italian vendetta, people were executed

for revenge. Married couples were separated, as wives were asked to leave husband and children and go back to their own clan, on the other side of the green line. We discover the complexity of the story, its versions varying from teller to teller. We get to know its victims, witnesses, actors, through one character’s investigation, Eliyya. Eliyya, son of Kamila and Youssef al-Semaani is born 9 months and 2 weeks after his father’s murder. The couple was married for 15 years, and Kamila never bore a child, until Youssef dies. This late birth is the cause of harmful gossip. When he turns 18, his mother sends him away from Lebanon where war is raging. Eliyya departs for New York where he is enrolled as a student. He only comes back in the 90’s, a man of 42 years old. He hasn’t seen his mother for 20 years, and only comes back to investigate, how his father had died some 40 years earlier. Eliyya is in a quest for a long lost identity. Douaihy’s detailed sensitive account of that society is halfway between realism and caricature, a tribute to his hometown, a detailed record of a part of its history that is still unmentionable, and a legacy to its daughters and sons. However dramatic the context and story, Jabbour Douaihy’s sense of humor is still perceptible. His sarcastic and affectionate eye grasps the essential absurdity and cruelty of a situation, too often observed in different parts of the world.


| T R A N S L A T I O N E X C E R P T : F R E N CH By H. Ayoub and H. Boisson PLUIE DE JUIN

Elle réagit comme piquée par un serpent : -Me faire opérer des yeux ? Pour quoi faire ? Le paysage, je le connais pas cœur. Et puis, qu’est-ce que j’aurais à

regarder ici ? La femme d’Ibrahim al-Halabi, cette grosse vache qui vient se dandiner sur le toit de sa maison pour étendre ses sous-vêtements ? Ou bien la façade de la maison d’Abou-Mansour, qui est toute pelée ? (…) Elle était donc de retour… A peine ouvrait-t-elle la bouche que des rafales de feu partaient dans toutes les directions.

| PRESS | Elena Loewenthal, Tutto Libri, La Stampa, Italy 09.2010: “Douaihy offers a highly original portrait, sometimes poignant and sometimes sarcastic, a Middle East still to discover.” | David Fontaine, Canards enchaînés, France 08.2010: “Jabbour Douaihy builds a powerful and complex novel with several voices, artfully weaving childhood memories and an adult's investigation.” | Geo, Italy, 08.2010: “With his gallery of characters alternating human paucity and greatness, the author offers a reflection on the fragility of ideology and the selfishness of love.” | Fulvio Panzeri, Awenire, Italy 07.2010: “It is definitely a surprise that comes to us from the Arab world literature; a discovery of a strong author, who tells us, in a novel with multiple voices and characters, the complexity of Lebanese culture.” | Tiziano Gianotti, D, La Repubblica della donne, Italy 07.2010: “Choral and black, Jabbour Douaihy's novel with its multiple voices, is one of the beautiful surprises of the season.” | Elsa Kammerer, Etudes, France 07.2010: “One does not enter in this novel without feline a persisting discomfort, and one does not get out of this novel untouched”. “June Rain is a powerful novel that we can only but recommend.” | Christophe Kantcheff, Politis, France 06.2010: “Jabbour Douaihy has an incredible talent in staging groups, thus producing the feeling of an acting collectivity, while still enhancing individualities.” | Agnès Rotivel, La Croix, France 06.2010: “Inspired by a massacre perpetrated in 1957 in a Church in Meziara in the author's hometown, this very beaitufil novel tells the story of a vendetta between two Christian Maronite families that deeply marked Lebanon.” | Fadel al-Sultani, al Mada al thaqafi, Lebanon: “All these guns are turned towards previous loved ones, brothers of blood. ‘We do not kill strangers’, screams Kamila, whose Baghdadi familiar song rings to this day, where dead bodies can still be found… ‘Strangers? We do not kill strangers, we kill our cousins’.” | Melhem Shaoul, an-Nahar, Lebanon: “If, as Adorno says, a novel is the imaginative expression of a tragedy undergone by the author, of his tensed relationship to society, its members and himself, then ‘June Rain’, is a novel, par excellence.” | Albert Dagher, an-Nahar, Lebanon: “The wonderful work by Jabbour Douaihy, ‘June rain’, has caused some agitation in the [Lebanese] intellectual milieu. It is perhaps the first time that the Lebanese rural society and its political community are depicted with such detail and passion.” | Mesbah al-Samad, al-Hayat, Lebanon: “Even though the picture [the author draws] is oppressing, it is not dark and makes no room for despair. It is true the author presents us with an engaged novel which depicts with precision an example of a vengeance based society (…) However, the author succeeds in depicting it with wit and humor.” | Zaynam Assa, Mulhaq an-Nahar, Lebanon: brilliant!”

“Jabbour Douaihy’s way of representing the incident’s space-time frame is

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FICTION In praise of hatred Madih al-karahiya K. Khalifa Dar al adab, Beirut, 2008 (2006) 390 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. French (Sindbad, Actes Sud, 2011), Dutch (De Geus, 2011), Spanish (Lumen, to appear), Italian (Bompiani, 2011), English (Transworld, to appear), Norwegian (Minuskel, 2011). AVAILABLE MATERIAL Full French translation. Translation excerpt, English, 1 chapter.

BIO Khaled Khalifa was born in 1964, in a village close to Aleppo, Syria. He is the fifth child of a family of thirteen siblings. He obtained a Bachelor degree of law and currently lives in Damascus where he writes scripts for cinema and television. SOME OTHER WORKS Guardians of treachery, The notebooks of the bohemians (2000). REMARKS In praise of hatred was among the 6 finalists to the Arab Man Booker Prize awarded in March 2008, Abu Dhabi.

| SUMMARY The captivating story of an activist young girl, in the midst of the violent repression of the Islamist opposition by the Syrian regime, in the 1980’s city of Aleppo. Rarely to this day have Syrian authors tried to enlighten the tragic events that devastated Syria in the 1980’s. Praise to hatred is a novel built on its author’s recollection of this exceptional period of Aleppo’s history. The intimate universe that the author has created is that of a bourgeois family. The narrator and main character, designated by the pronoun ‘she’, is a teen-ager. She undergoes the bigot influence of her aunts and uncles. Aiming for God’s approval, she dresses in black and covers her head with the religious veil. She represses her blooming sensuality, wears bras filled with cardboard, and looks with horror to girls who dare reveal their arms and breasts in indecent clothing, as members of the ruling party boast with their uniforms and their weapons at college and in the streets. Following the footsteps of her beloved uncle Bakr, she enters the main opposition movement, the Islamist brotherhood, and finds her hatred to be her only source of strength and power in the face of a violent world she feels

lost in. It is in jail, paradoxically, that she somehow returns to an age of innocence and after her liberation, 7 years later, the hatred disaggregates in her heart, allowing her to straighten her life out, and to slowly learn friendship and love. Many other characters make the richness of this novel. There is Maryam, the eldest who teaches to her teen-aged niece the taboo of the body; Marwa, her sister, who marries an officer of the ‘Death brigade’, destined to crush the Islamist Brotherhood. There is Safa, yet another aunt, a liberal who used to fully enjoy life, but ends up retired behind her ‘burqa’ after her marriage with Abdallah, a Mujahid of Kandahar and ex-communist fighter touched by the ‘light of God’. The characters of this novel are alive, very well integrated in a delimited space-time frame. Troubled by their questioning and their obsessions, they seem familiar and close to our own daily preoccupations.


| TRANSLATION EXCERPT:ENGLISH by Max Weiss [ available: part 1, pp 113-142] Note: another English translation excerpt by Marlin Dick is also available [ available: part 2, pp 222-248] I N PRAI S E O F HATR E D

The only one I knew was Heba, the bashful daughter of our schoolteacher who later became our spokesperson. Seven young girls respectfully listening to Alia as she urged us to hate the other sects while praising ours—the one closest to the Prophet of God—and cited the teachings of the great Imams and recounted for us the biographies of the shaykhs and the mujahideen. At the end of the meeting, she handed out pamphlets, requesting that we keep them secret. I’d read them in my room, thrilled, quickly hiding them whenever Safa came in to complain about her chronic headache or how she missed Abdallah, who wasn’t coming back until the end of August. I wished August would end: How I loathed that month for its stifling heat, because of which I’d end up soaking wet just by walking around beneath my thick black clothes. “My pores are just dying,” I’d mutter to myself, as beads of sweat emitted their citrusy odor. I hated my body (…)

By the end of that summer, I was consumed by hatred, fueled by it. I felt like it was my salvation, as though it could grant me the sense of superiority I had always longed for. I’d carefully read the pamphlets that were handed out at every meeting, memorizing entire sections, especially the fatwas that accused all the other sects of being infidels. I got to know my seven comrades better and grew to love them. We shared our secrets with one another and exchanged books describing the horrors of the grave. By joining up with them, I was spared from my desires for Ghada, who had become, in my opinion, a pathetic little girl, still a long way off from this power I had acquired and the determination with which I now spoke whenever someone asked for my opinion on the just punishment due to someone who offended the teachings of religion. I surprised everyone when I asked for the class rosters of schoolgirls and requested permission to throw acid in their faces if they wore tight blouses that scandalously showed off their breasts. Alia’s eyes flashed as she begged me to be patient, behaving as though she could predict the exact timing of the coming apocalypse. “We need hatred in order to give our lives meaning,” I mused while I celebrated my seventeenth birthday alone.

| PRESS | New York Times, 2008 The book, a Balzacian tale full of romance and murder that ranges from Afghanistan to Yemen to Syria, was promptly banned when it was first published here in 2006 (...) All that has given Mr. Khalifa, who is better known here for his television screenplays, a new prominence as one of the rising stars of Arab fiction, and a rare public voice on a largely forbidden topic. | Avvenire, 2011 A new author in the world of Arabic literature, who has great literary depth, comparable to Faulkner and Garcia Marquez | L’Espresso, 2011 A prose so powerful, it competes with the events of history, and yet, full of nuances, it makes the reader share the most intimate and contradictory feelings of the protagonists. | Le Soir, 2011 Written with a precise language, a book on the Syria of the 1980s of infinite sadness. | Al-Hayat, 2006 The novel is woven following the trail of hatred’s smell, while the narration borrows the colors and motives of the tapestry to draw an immense fresco that tells us the story of a city. | Al-Mustaqbal, 2006 It is a marvelous novel which haunted its author for 13 years. Khaled Khalifa broke political taboos when he published his novel in Syria (...) A cultural event, since the first edition of the novel was out of stock one month after its publication.

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SAID Makkawi

FICTION The swan’s last song Taghridat al-Bajaa M. Said al-Dar, Cairo, 2007 290 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title, except for English. Sold rights. All rights available except English (AUC press, 2009). AVAILABLE MATERIAL Full English translation. PDF file of the original Arabic version.

BIO Makkawi Said is born in Egypt. SOME OTHER WORKS Racing after lights, The ship’s mice, The back-seat passenger and A romantic state REMARKS The swan’s last song was among the six finalists to the Arab Man Booker Prize (IPAF) awarded in March 2008, in Abu Dhabi

| SUMMARY The colorful bitter-sweet account of a young man’s erratic life in 2006 Cairo. Elias Khoury: “Makkawi Said knows how to lead us to the blissfulness of narration, and into his intertwined stories.” Cairo 2006. The narrator, Mustafa, an academic, leads an agitated life in this very cosmopolitan city. We first get to know him as Marsha’s man, a young American woman established in Cairo. We then get to know him as Zaynab’s lover, a young journalist woman come from the countryside with some illusions, but no bitterness. There is also Yasmine, a very conservative young girl, a poet whom he guides and advises... It is almost as if the women of his life correspond to the different aspects of Cairo. A city which evolves so quickly and so unexpectedly, and which has so many different faces it is almost hard to fully know it, or capture it. As the evolving and moving city, the characters themselves are hard to capture. The narrator’s friend Issam, starts as a young promising painter, and ends as a self-destructive mystical man; while on the other hand, his old leftist acquaitance, Ahmad, becomes a fundamentalist preacher spreading the good word in the streets. Mustafa, himself taking on different personas, is at the core of the novel, and the point where all these different aspects of the city meet. He is part of the intellectual

intelligentsia who mingles with foreigners, but at the same time, he is Karim’s friend, a young street gang’s leader. The transitions from one cozy universe to the other ruthless one are as brutal in the novel’s pages as they are in real life, seems to say the narrator. Still, there is no empathy, no drama. All the book’s events unfold, almost irrationally, and with a speed that does not allow the reader to pause, and think. Though they may seem independent and meaningless, they are somehow linked in space and time and constitute the essence of being. Instead of a psychological vertical depth, there is a sort of horizontal diversity that unfolds in time, and characterizes both the city and its inhabitants. We are bombarded with stories, characters, events, conversations, and through this thick literary fabric, we get a sense of the particulare universe that characterizes Cairo, and of the despair and confusion with which is confronted a whole generation. Indeed, Mustafa’s existence seems to flow through his hands, out of his reach, at the rhythm of lost opportunities and disappearing friends. Though erratic in hic case, life still steadily moves undoubtedly towards an ending. Death looms at the horizon of this colorful existence. Like the swan that sings its last song while heading towards the ocean, Mustafa tells us his stories.



It was a boisterous party like all the rest. The foreign band was playing like a bunch of madmen and the noise from the speakers was shaking the chairs and the floor. I went out to the balcony and leaned against the wooden door. I stood there smoking, looking out over the beautiful Cairo night. The balcony stretched the length of the two rooms that the partygoers were congregated in and each opened out on to it. I wasn’t the only one out on the balcony; other guests were hanging out in corners smoking pot or hash, and couples stood in the dark, one hand on their drinks, the other on each other’s bodies. The clamor reverberated through the otherwise serene and lovely neighborhood, even though we were up on the 14th floor. The building tenants were made up mostly of students at the international private universities in the city—most of the foreign students were studying at the American University in Cairo—or else they were consultants or employees of the multinational firms operating in Egypt. The building was extremely well-guarded, almost as if it were being kept a secret. Watch out, if you’ve had a plate implanted for a broken bone, or if you’ve got a silver tooth, or if you’re a woman using the coil for birth control because the metal detector that’s like a second narrower entrance to the building is certain to erupt in an excruciating whistle. You might not even get through without a certificate of quarantine from NAMRU.

head, I could see Marcia writhing, dancing, absorbed in the music. I could tell she was drunk. She was staring at me with an empty look, warning me against sneaking out unannounced. I wouldn’t have been able to dance with her if she’d asked. I was sick with boredom so I tried to keep entertained by checking out the faces of the people there: half of them I’d never seen before, but the other half I knew. Some were students of mine, or I’d met them through Marcia, and there were some Egyptians and foreigners whom I’d met at cultural events. None of my close friends came. Bloody Essam talked me into coming here and then didn’t show up himself. I hadn’t seen my German friend, Awad, either. I saw Diana and Evelyn, but I pretended not to, and went to go say hello to some losers and exchange idiot conversation with an idiot. One by one I was racking up points: stolen kisses from the foreign girls I tutored. I was totally out of it by then. Exhaustion drove me to the study where I found Julia the maid. Clearly drunk at this point, I kicked her out like a tyrant. My mind was wrestling with gelatinous visions, my intestines were near bursting, and I had an awful headache. When I woke up in the morning, I was in Marcia’s room and my elbows and feet were painfully sore. Marcia was sleeping at my feet, her legs spread, and her hair looking like tufts of felt. I slowly moved my feet from above her and kissed the part of her hair; my lips felt wet. A plan was just now beginning to crystallize in my mind. I was going to get in the shower and get out of there as soon as possible.

I was leaning against the door of the balcony unable to look at the ground below. When I turned my

| PRESS | The Independent Educated, alienated, increasingly unstable, he [Mustapha, main character] has abandoned oppositional politics secular and religious, tired of the comforts of poetry and rejected the crassness of the private sector; but, like so many in Egypt, cannot bear to be away. His voice carries a bitterness born of exhaustion and wounded arrogance, while his actions are often cruel, mysognist and mean-minded. | Elias Khoury Al-Quds I would like to thank Makkawi Said, whose novel proved that the old [post-Mahfouz] literary vision lives on in the new one. This does not mean that ‘The swan’s last song’ imitates Halsa’s novels. But it does mean that the literary style innovated by Halsa is making its way through the modern Egyptian creativity, thus opening new horizons for the Arab novel... I do not wish to summarize the novel’s stories, for Makkawi Said knows how to lead us to the blissfulness of narration, and into his intertwined stories. | Al-Akhbar The novel, the second edition of which was published by al-Dar, Cairo, just a few months after the first edition, is characterized by a narrative style, both subtle and greatly entertaining.

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T E R R O R I S T N O. 2 0

THABIT Abdullah

FICTION Terrorist no.20 Al-irhabi 20 A. Thabit Dar al-Mada, Damascus, 2006 254 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title except for French. French rights previously sold to Actes Sud, Sindbad (2010). Sold rights. World rights available, except for French (Sindbad, Actes Sud, 2010), Norwegian (Minuskel, 2011) AVAILABLE MATERIAL Complete French translation.

| SUMMARY This is the story of a man who could have been the 20th terrorist attacking the World Trade Center in New York in 2001. Why would a man become a terrorist? How does he face his neighbors, his father, his brothers and sisters? Why is he ready to leave his life behind, for what greater cause? Such are the questions that the intimate recount by Abduallah Thabit answers, straightforwardly, almost candidly. In the 1970’s, Zahi Al-Jibali is the last born of a family of 9 siblings, son of a traditional modest family, destined to be a shepherd in the south of Saudi Arabia. Convinced by one of his older brothers, he joins a Koranic school, and suffers from the constant frustration of having no time to play ball or to hang out with friends. As an adolescent Zahi changes schools, but is eventually caught up by a religious group that insidiously draws him into its ranks. In bad terms with his too strict of a father since his young age, Zahi easily pulls away from his family, and finds a new home amongst his friends. Giving him affection, appreciation, and to some extent power, the religious group asks him in exchange to make a clear distinction between good and bad Muslims. Harassing youths seen in

BIO Abdullah Thabit is born in 1973, in Assir, in the South of Saudi Arabia. He achieved studies in Arabic literature and political science. He is a journalist in the Al Watan Saudi daily, and a poet. SOME OTHER WORKS Abdullah Thabit is the author of several poetry collections. Terrorist no. 20 is his first novel.

unacceptable and immoral situations, or even punishing young men who listen to music in their cars is part of Zahi’s new pass-time. It is not the promise of a godly reward that pulls these religious activists together, nor is it the dream of a lush paradise that pushes them to war. It is fear. The fear of being unrighteous, and of being rejected and punished by God for it. Nevertheless, Zahi suddenly leaves the group and experiences the true meaning of loneliness, with a family that supports him but does not understand him. Infatuated with poetry, beauty, and knowledge, his path leads him away from his religious friends, and exposes him to their wrath. It is with great surprise, after the 9.11 attack on the Twin Towers, that he recognizes the faces of the people who perpetrated this crime. He could’ve been one of these men. Terrorist no. 20 is more than a novel. It is also a literary essay and a captivating memoir, somewhere between sociology, anthropology and poetry, told from the deeply intimate and painful point of view of a man from the inside. The transformation of Zahi’s character is palatable and amazing. It occurs both in the story, and in the literature. The further we go, the higher we rise above descriptive narration, with ideas and thoughts becoming more and more abstract. Poetry, is really what the salvation of this character is about.


| T R A N S L A T I O N E X C E R P T: F R E N C H Translated by Françoise Neyrod [p 15]

‘ Abha est toujours un village malgré les réverbères, les immeubles, les rues goudronnées, les boutiques et les marchés. C’est un village qui veut se donner des airs de ville, il me fait penser à ces jeunes filles de la campagne qui s’habillent comme les citadines, mais qui restent des paysannes. Ainsi, je suis “de la montagne” doublement. Je dois vous parler également des gens d’ici, de leurs coutumes, de ce qu’ils savent, vous dire comment ils s’expriment, la façon dont ils vivent. C’est une entreprise périlleuse comme de se jeter avec audace dans le vide, ce qui peut devenir un exercice de haute voltige salué par les badauds émerveillés ou finir par une chute lamentable sur un rocher. Dans notre province d’Assir, les gens sont bons et doux, ils ne sont capables d’aucune méchanceté, ou bien il faudrait les avoir poussés dans une colère folle. D’une nature ardente et passionnée, ils vivent inquiets, toujours. Ils ont une telle fierté, un tel orgueil que cela prête

à rire parfois, car ils peuvent, des années durant, tenter d’obtenir ce qu’ils convoitent, puis finir par s’interdire de poser le regard dessus ; ce serait perdre de leur prestige et de leur honneur ! Tout en haut de ces montagnes, ils sont cernés par les vents, les spectres, les questions sans réponses et ils sont ce vent, ces questions lancinantes, cette incertitude. Brûlants comme le soleil de leurs montagnes, aussi limpides que l’azur, ils sont durs comme les glaces et sombres comme les nuages. Parfois, avec la pluie, le tonnerre, les tempêtes, leurs passions se font trop vives et ils rient : “Nous attestons que la pluie est notre Dieu.” Un mot un peu trop arrogant, et c’est une raison de commettre un crime, ils vivent pour se sentir fiers, simplement.

| PRESS | Le Monde, France, 02.2010 Terrorist no.20… is a good example of what could produce a bitter and straightforward Saoudi literature, still not translated enough. | Lire, France, 03.2010 Thabit, who has come a long way, offers us a fascinating story full of wisdom and poetry | La Croix, France 01.2010 Going over the story of a thirty year old Saoudi who resembles the 19 terrorists of September 11, the author questions his own story and the djihadists' motivations. | L'Humanité, France 03.2010 An apprenticeship novel - of the worse | Le Figaro, France 04.2010 In this very autobiographic novel, a Saoudi citizen exposes how we could have been the twentieth hijacker. | Le Figaro, France 2008 There is a lot of Abdullah in Zahi, who, like his creator, is reborn as an liberal intelelctual. Abdullah Thabit wants to make an exampe out of him: "This is the novel of a generation, he confirms. I wanted to show how so many Saudis have fallen into terrorism".

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YAZ B E K Samar

Cinnamon Ra’ihat al-Qirfa S. Yazbek Dar al-adab, Beirut, 2008 167 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. Italian (Castelvecchi, 2010). French (Buchet Chastel, to appear). English (Arabia books, Haus publishing, UK, to appear) AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF file of the original Arabic version. Full Italian translation.

BIO Born in 1970 in Jable, in the Alaouite region of Syria, Samar Yazbek studied literature before beginning her career as a journalist and a script writer for Syrian television and cinema. SOME OTHER WORKS Child of Heaven (2002). Clay (2005). In her mirrors (2008). In the cross fire: Syrian revolution diaries (to appear), translated into French (Buchet Chastel, to appear)

│ SUMMARY The passionate love story of a Damascus bourgeoise for her young maid; an amazing insider’s look into Damscus’ ghettoes and high end society. It is late at night, and Hanan sees a ray of light under her husband’s bedroom door. She opens the door to a horrific sight, that of her old husband in bed with her beloved maid Alia. Blinded by anger and rage, Hanan throws Alia out in the middle of the night. She watches Alia walk away, hoping she will turn back, and bitterly regrets having pushed her lover away. Alia, who hasn’t turned twenty yet, has been Hanan’s maid for over eight years. She hasn’t heard from her family ever since her father brought her to the villa, in exchange of some money. She didn’t suspect the man had run off with the money, and didn’t think her mother was totally ignorant of her whereabouts. Leaving home and being sold to the owners of this villa, she thought, would help her mother, bothers and sisters out. They all lived in a single room in the ghetto, its walls and ceiling made of tin, under the tyranny of the father, a useless brutal man. Life is not worth much in the ghetto, especially that of little girls. This is how Alia grew up to be so fierce. She was eight years old, and would carry a knife when she went out collecting the garbage for a few pennies. Alia walks away from the villa, with nowhere to go. She didn’t love Hanan, but felt safe in the golden cage. Being

Hanan’s lover was an easy game she played in exchange of a little comfort and piece of mind. She heads towards the ghetto, fearing the encounter with her father, recalling the misery and smell of rubbish she thought she had left behind, holding her little knife tight as she feels unsafe again in the deserted streets of this rich neighborhood. As Hanan watches her leave, she remembers her own despair of quite a different kind. That of a lonely wealthy woman, married to an old cousin against her will, a quiet disgusting man, with a skin as thick as that of a crocodile’s, and who smells of death. Hanan’s life may be smooth, and the steam of her bath smell good of cinnamon, but it is desperately empty, deprived of any sense. The two women’s encounter was unlikely anywhere in the city except in the house, where Alia was the maid during the day, and the lover at night. Two tormented women who somehow brought comfort to each other, and yet still engaged in a relationship of power and control over each other. The time frame of the novel is set between the moment Alia walks out the door, and the moment Hanan, suddenly panic stricken with the idea of losing her forever, thrusts out of her house early in the morning, into her car, looking for her. A few, yet intense, hours of these two women’s lives give us a quick glimpse on the Syrian contemporary society from a very unusual angle.



Un fascio di luce. La porta è socchiusa. Non fosse stato per la luce obliqua che lambiva lo specchio nel corridoio, Hanan Al-Hashemi non si sarebbe mai accorta dei sussurri. A svegliarla è stato un incubo. È balzata dal letto come fosse stata punta: stava sognando di essere un mostro con cinque braccia e tre seni. Ha camminato scalza. Si è passata istintivamente le mani lungo il corpo sudato. Ha sentito la sottoveste viola appiccicata ai seni, ha cercato quelle orribili protuberanze. È stata quasi sorpresa di ritrovarsi «normale». È uscita dalla stanza, è scesa per le scale di legno e si è precipitata

verso lo specchio rettangolare, appartenuto ai vecchi proprietari della casa. Lo specchio non mente, l’avrebbe rassicurata: niente orribili braccia scheletriche danzanti attorno al suo corpo come serpenti. Ma poi ha visto quel fascio di luce. Lo specchio lo riflette. Il bagliore obliquo che taglia in due il corridoio la risveglia dall’incubo. Hanan si accorge dei respiri affannati che provengono dalla stanza di suo marito. Si ferma, impietrita, gli occhi sbarrati. Non trova il coraggio di muoversi per andare a vedere cosa stia accadendo in quella stanza, in cui non entra da anni e di cui non ricorda neanche l’aspetto. Non le importa più da tempo, ormai, dove e come suo marito dorma. Hanan aspetta solo che muoia. Avanza verso lo specchio. Accende la luce in corridoio. Indossa solo la sottoveste corta. Cosa può fare mio marito nella sua stanza, si domanda, forse è solo un’allucinazione.

| PRESS | Grazia, Italy May 2010 Hers is a provocative story in which love gives way to scandal, disturbing because of the intense delicacy with which it is lived and written | IO Donna, Italy, 2010 Transgressive. | Inaya Jaber

as-Safir, Beirut, January 29th, 2008

In your new novel ‘Cinnamon’, we feel your narrative energy, and your endless resources for narration and story telling. You write short sentences which do not encumber the essence of the scenes you depict. Your writing is as light as a camera that swiftly captures faces and torments. I was preparing a scenario for a documentary on the belt of misery in Damascus, and was out with a director friend of mine to take some pictures of a neighborhood in preparation of the filming. We stopped at a corner, close to an buildup of garbage. Suddenly, a little girl stepped out from behind the heap of rubbish. She looked at me very intensely, and was carrying a white plastic bag, full of empty glass bottles. She looked at us with great hatred. Her look penetrated me. I felt an urge to cry. As I was looking at her, I felt I was wiped out by the heaviness of her look. She looked like a small animal. While I was regularly going to this neighborhood, I was also working on a research on the violence made to women. Among the different interviews, was one with a little girl in Alia’s age. She had tried to kill her employer, after having worked for her for several years. The woman had sexually abused her. I was very close to both these worlds. The world of great misery, and the world of wealthy women, surrounded with loneliness and despair, and suspected with secret relationships they would fear to be uncovered.

Y A Z B E K, C I N N A M O N P 2/2




YAZ B E K Samar

In her mirrors Laha maraya S. Yazbek Dar al-adab, Beirut, 2010 292 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title. Sold rights. Italian (Castelvecchi, 2011) AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF file of the original Arabic version.

BIO Born in 1970 in Jable, in the Alaouite region of Syria, Samar Yazbek studied literature before beginning her career as a journalist and a script writer for Syrian television and cinema. SOME OTHER WORKS Child of Heaven (2002). Clay (2005). Cinnamon (2008), translated into Italian (Castelvecchi, 2010), French (Buchet Chastel, to appear). In the cross fire: Syrian revolution diaries (to appear), translated into French (Buchet Chastel, to appear)

│ SUMMARY A modern Greek tragedy set in contemporary Syria. Centuries of the Alaoui’s violent history through 24 hours of a devastatingly passionate love story. The president is dead and the capital hesitates between fear and mourning. At the same time, Said the president’s ex strong man is in his hometown. He follows the funerals on TV, and worries for his future. Miles from him, Laila, freshly released from jail, comes into the city. Weakened, turned down by all, she still thinks of him, Said, her powerful lover. How could he have left her in jail all of these years? This book is the narrative of the multidimensional passionate love story between Laila and Said. Laila is the grand daughter of an Alaoui leader who resented the way some Alaouis brutally got to power. She has grown with her grand father’s religious and mystical beliefs, based on reincarnation. In this perspective, it is not she, who was drawn to her family’s enemy, Said. Their story is transcendental. It is the repetition of a previous passionate love story, started at the times of the persecution of the Alaouis. Each of these love stories, of which she has been aware since her very early age, is marked by death and violent seperation. As if their two passionate souls were doomed.

Once again, Samar Yazbek gives her novel an almost mystical dimension the ambiguities of which provide the narrative with thickness and characters with psychological depth. Laila’s passion determined by history may either be the result of her clairvoyance, or the consequence of her sick mind. In either case, Laila floats above ground; a poetic butterfly, crushed by the tremendous love of a ruthless man and destiny. Once again a free woman, Laila can only think of going to Said and confront him. Will they meet again? Will she love him? Will she kill him and let him die under the blade like he has in their previous lives? These burning questions drive the reader through the story. The novel’s narrative spans from the morning of Laila’s release to the next, as she heads to her old lover. Yazbek’s detailed writing and the specificity of her descriptions convey powerful emotions that characterize this modern Greek tragedy, set on a historical and esoteric fascinating background.


| PRESS | Mohammad Berrada Al Hayat, September 2010 Anovel with a great linguistic wealth, a seductive plot and a humanistic vision’. | As Safir, February 2011 Samar Yazbek, is one of these Syrian novelists who have been able to leave a firm mark on the map of Syria’s new novel. Since “Child of heaven”, through “Clay”, “Cinnamon” and, finally, “In her Mirrors”, she has managed to create for herself a special place, with the use of a diversity of writing techniques and by attending to issues with unprecedented boldness. | Al Hayat, September 2010 The novel’s stake is on digging deep into sectarianism – another aspect of its greatness. It is bound to provoke some commotion, but also to encourage dialogue. .

Y A Z B E K, I N H E R M I R R O R S P 2/2



DAOUD Hassan

180 sunsets Mi’at wa thamanun ghuruban H. Daoud Dar al saqi, Beirut, 2009 288 pages

RIGHTS Rights owner. Dar al saqi. RAYA agency represents this title for world rights. Sold rights. French (Actes Sud) AVAILABLE MATERIAL PDF of the novel, in Arabic. PDF of the novel, in French (coming soon) REMARKS 180 Sunsets was long-listed for the IPAF (Arab Man Booker prize) 2010.

BIO Hassan Daoud was born in a village of South Lebanon in 1950. He moved to Beirut with his family as a child and worked as a journalist in several newspapers before becoming the editor or Al Mustaqbal’s cultural supplement. SOME OTHER WORKS Daoud published 8 novels, namely: The house of Mathilde (1983, translated into French, Actes Sud, 1998; English, Granta). Borrowed times (1990, translated into English, Telegram; French, Actes Sud, 2001). The penguin’s song (1998, translated into French, Actes Sud, 2007). A light make-up for tonight (2003). The year of the revolutionary new bread-making machine (translated into English, Telegram, 2007).

│ SUMMARY Salma, Taysir, Walid, and his fat older brother, are the main characters -and in turn, narrators- of this very truthful depiction of a small Eastern Mediterranean town. Life is still in Al Zahraniya, the topography of which, according to Walid’s nameless brother, determines its atmosphere and its inhabitants’ destiny: Two rows of closely stuck together low-rise houses on the sea side, separated by one main road. Nothing much happens in Al Zahraniya. Walid and his brother sell plastic toys, and live together close to their shop. Just above the shop, lives Abu Aatef with his wife, his daughter Salma, his daughter in law and her young children. Nobody likes Abu Aatef. He spends his days on the balcony, watching people and lurking at young women. “They are dirty”, thinks Walid’s brother to himself, “stacked like cattle in such a tiny space”. Still, ever since he got a glimpse of Abu Aatef’s wife naked, he keeps fantasizing about her. He hates her manly voice that he can hear through the walls when she shouts. He hates her dragging heavy legs. But he dreams about being alone with her, in a room where a couch would be the single piece of furniture. Tony, Mikha, Joseph and Milad form a gang of young men who spend most of their days beneath the big electric pole, at the beginning of the main road, facing the toy shop and Abu Aatef’s house. Often, they also go to the beach with Renée, Bernadette and some other girls.

“They’re not rich, but they don’t look poor”, thinks Salma to herself as she watches the girls walk by. Taysir, the town’s idiot, is another of the gang’s favorite games. They laugh at his deformed head and tease him about the birds he raises and sells in a nearby town. Salma, somewhat confined to her house, wants to be part of the fun. She amuses the youth down the road by making signs to Taysir from her window. Until one day, Salma is caught at her window, showing him her beautiful breasts. The novel culminates in these few minutes where Salma is seen playing a secret dangerous game with Taysir. This event, leading to Taysir falling madly in love with Salma, triggers the disruption of the town’s fragile balance at a time where civil war is already raging in other parts of the country. Communitarian tension slowly creeps in, as words like ‘christians’, ‘muslims’ , ‘them’ and ‘us’, start being used, along with military jackets and fire guns. Hassan Daoud makes an astoundingly detailed and accurate account of an Easterm Mediterranean town, with its warmish light, sticky smells, and dusty heat, which are all an integral part of the novel’s suffocating atmosphere. He also portrays with great sensitivity the characters’ humanity, as well as their evolution in times of tension, convincingly detailing the mechanisms that unavoidably lead to violence.  


| PRESS | Husein Bin Hamza, Al Akhbar, March 6th, 2009:” The author of the 'Penguin's song' succeeds in creating a very rich world in every new work” “Daoud's way of writing provides his work a kind of eternity in the reader's memory.” | Ahmad Maghribi, Assafir, September 4th, 2009: “The author is keen on weaving a beautifully hidden fabric, in an impressively smart way.” “The writing is almost manipulative, it is so delicate in the intertwining of the allusions, the specificity of the dramatic structure, and the mixture of description, narration and emotion.” “This is perhaps one of the rare Arabic novels that connects to post-modernism.” | Abbas Baydoun, Assafir, December 21, 2009: “'180 Sunsets' is a literary monument.” “'180 Sunsets' is the completion of the Daoud-ian game, in its achievement of the fine balance between silence and revelation, obvious metaphors and thin weaving, daily smoothness and personal intrigue.” | Thana Atawi, Awan, 2009: “Hassan Daoud's work may be a 'literary monument', as the author and poet Abbas Baydoun said, or perhaps is it a work of art, according to the poet Bassam Hajjar. It is, without a doubt, a captivating and influential novel.”

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Ibrahim A B D E L M E G U I D Nobody sleeps in Alexandria

FICTION Manshourat al-jamal, Germany, 2000 432 page

RIGHTS Rights owner. AUC Press. RAYA represents this title for world rights. With the exception of French ad English.

WWII as it was lived in Alexandria. The city beautifully unfolds into a rich historical fresco, full of colorful and unforgettable characters.

Sold rights. All rights available except for French (Desclée de Brouwer and English (AUC Press).

Ibrahim A B D E L M E G U I D


The virgo sign

FICTION Dar Al Adab, Beirut, 2003, 220 pages

AVAILABLE MATERIAL Full English translation in PDF

Rights owner. Rights owner. The author. RAYA represents word translation rights of this title. Sold rights. All rights are available.

The emotional narrative of a long and painful, even nightmarish, mourning process, coupled with an incisive, often absurd, caricature of the Egyptian society of Cairo.

AVAILABLE MATERIAL Translation excerpt, French, 1 chapter

Mohammad A B I S A M R A


The precedent man

FICTION Dar al-Jadid, Beirut, 1995, 105 pages

The sensual and emotional story of a man’s return to his homeland. An intimate and amazingly accurate portrait of a marginal, even alienated, man.

Hussein A L - B A R G H O U T I I will be among the almond trees AUTOBIOGRAPHY Dar an-Nahar, Beirut, 2002, 271 pages

A delicate and beautiful contemplation of life, through the eyes of a dying man.

Jabbour D O U A I H Y Ayn warda

FICTION Dar an-Nahar, Beirut, 2002, 271 pages

A fiercely witty portrait of a Lebanese bourgeois family and the slow decay of a society.

Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title, except for French. Sold rights. All rights available except French (Sindbad, Actes Sud, 2007) AVAILABLE MATERIAL Full French translation available. RIGHTS

Rights owner. The author. RAYA agency has the world rights to this title, except for French. Sold rights. French (Sindbad, Actes Sud, France, 2008). AVAILABLE MATERIAL Full French translation available


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Elias F A R K O U H Columns of foam

FICTION al- Majles al-aala lil thaqafa , Cairo, 2004, 302 pages

Lebanon, 1976. The poignant and universal story of the beginnings of a civil war.

Elias F A R K O U H The land of purgatory

FICTION al-Mouassassa al-arabiyya, Amman, 2007, 233 pages

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A literary retrospective of a middle aged man, born in Palestine, and living in Jordan, on his hospital bed. In between two places, in between life and death. society of Cairo.

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Khaled K H A L I F A


The notebooks of the bohemians FICTION Dar Ward, Damascus, 2000, 207 pages

Sensual, colorful, extremely poetic and sensitive is the story of Annabiya’s inhabitants.

Saadallah W A N N O U S Ritual for a metamorphosis

REMARKS The land of Purgatory was among the 6 finalists to the Arab Man Booker Prize in March 2008, Abu Dhabi.

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A beautiful illustration of the transformation of the Damascene society in the end of the 19th century.

Samar Y A Z B E K Clay

FICTION Dar Charqiyat, Cairo, 2005 , 242 pages

The fascinating tale of the events surrounding the death of an Alaouite notable, set in contemporary Syria.

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C O - A G E N T S’ L I S T DUTCH Wandel Cruse [email protected] ENGLISH Toby Eady tobyeadyassociates.co.uk FRENCH Vigevani marcovigevani.com GERMAN Vigevani marcovigevani.com ITALIAN Vigevani marcovigevani.com KOREAN Duran Kim durankim.com PORTUGUESE Kerrigan antoniakerrigan.com SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES Wandel Cruse [email protected] SPANISH Kerrigan antoniakerrigan.com