arab history through fiction

Yasser sends this New Left Review article about his father, Abd al-Rahman Munif, explaining “It’s almost an accurate account of Munif’s work and political views.” This leaves one to wonder where it is off! But for a generally naive american like myself, it looks like quite an impressive corpus demonstrating a good deal of personal courage.
Mr. Munif died a year ago.
The author of this piece, Sabry Hafez, makes many laudatory claims: they convince me I ought to read at least some of these works. For instance, “Ard al-Sawad is by far the best Arabic novel on Iraq.”
Here and Now is a hospital in Prague where ex-political prisoners are sent by their parties for treatment, to seek a cure for their bodies and souls. The hospital, however, is no isolated cosmos, but a locus of contending forces in which external political powers are also at work.”
Munif is most famous for Sharq al-Mutawassit, East of the Mediterranean, “whose public impact was deep and immediate.”
A close second for fame might be the quintet, Cities of Salt, which Hafez describes as “construct[ing] a fictional universe of remarkable imaginative coherence that is a passionate cry against what Munif once called the trilogy of evils afflicting the Arab world&emdash;rentier oil, political Islam and police dictatorship&emdash;and a profound call for justice and freedom.”
A World without Maps offers a fresco of a huge city that has descended into obscurity and chaos.”
Endings remains one of the most advanced fictions in contemporary Arab literature.”
Hin Tarakna al-Jisr (When We Abandoned the Bridge, 1976), already showed his restlessness and capacity for formal reinvention.”

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