Dialogue with Elias Khoury on Literature and Translation
This is the protocol of a conversation conducted with the famous Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, who addresses languages, literatures, and translation.
The Drowned Library (Reflections on Found, Lost, and Translated Books and Languages)
Anton Shammas’s essay “The Drowned Library” beautifully depicts the symbiosis between Arabic and Hebrew. The drowning library is a linguistic slide freely skating between the two languages.
In a Third Voice
An excerpt from the introductory chapter of Elias Khoury‘s new novel Stella Maris (Beirut: Dar Al-Adab, 2019), translated from the Arabic by Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani.
.(إلياس خوري, نجمة البحر: أولاد الغيتو 2 (بيروت: دارالآداب، 2019
A short story by Sama Hasan, a Palestinian author and journalist living in Gaza. She has published five collections of short stories in Arabic: City of Silence (2008); Diary of a Besieged Woman (2012); Gentle Chaos (2014); Laughter and Play, Tears and War (2015); Corners (2016). Selected stories have been translated into many languages.
A short story by Atheer Safa, who was born in Baqa al-Gharbiyya in 1984. She has an MA in Arabic language and literature from Tel Aviv University, and is an author, poet, translator, and editor. Her novel Tweet (Arabic) was published in 2013 (Dar Mirit, Egypt); it was nominated for the Arabic Booker Prize.
Ice Cream in the Car
A short story by the Palestinian author Tamara Naser. She studied English literature, film, and psychology, has an MA, and is a certified bibliotherapist, providing therapy through stories and writing, at Haifa University.
The Gate to the Body
A short story by Sheikha Hlewa, who was born in 1968 in an unrecognized Bedouin village near Haifa. An author, poet, and educator, today she lives in Jaffa. She has an MA in Arabic and Islam from Tel Aviv University and is an instructor and curriculum developer. Her short stories have been translated into many languages and published in journals and websites in the Arab world and Israel. She has published four books (in Arabic): Outside of the Seasons I Learned How to Fly, poetry (Jordan, 2015); Ladies of Darkness, short stories (Jordan, 2015); The Windows Are Broken Books, short stories (Jordan, 2016); Invitation No. C345, short stories (Italy, 2018).
What Is Anticolonial Translation? The Form and Content of Binational Resistance in Maktoob
This essay examines translation as an anticolonial literary form in the context of contemporary translation theory and activist translation practices in Palestine/Israel. Analyzing the impact of colonial paradigms on language, culture, and translation, it demonstrates that Arabic-to-Hebrew translation practices have been used to both instantiate and challenge existing colonial structures. With a focus onMaktoob, the first Palestinian-Jewish translation collective, it goes on to analyze the methods used by progressive translation groups to resist racism, occupation, and colonialism and to democratize the Israeli cultural sphere over the past seventy years. It argues that Maktoob’s unique contribution to this tradition emerges from its commitment to a systemic decolonization of the processes surrounding translation. Binational, bilingual translation, the collective’s working model, combines content-based approaches with formal, linguistic, and structural innovations in translation processes. The explicit aim of this model is to erode colonial effects such as Orientalism, cultural erasure, ethnoseparatism, literary theft, and the linguistic division between Arabic and Hebrew, and to establish a model that promotes democratic cultural participation among Jews and Palestinians. The essay demonstrates the continued influence of cultural decolonization on contemporary literary production and offers new insights into what this means for translation theory and practice.
Abandoning Language: The Project of Arab-Jewish Subjectivity in Sami Michael’s Arabic Fiction of the 1950s
Sami Michael is a well-known, Iraqi-born Israeli writer whose best-selling works have been widely discussed in both public and academic discourse. However, long before writing in Hebrew, Michael published several short stories and articles in his native Arabic during the 1950s. This article examines a selection of Michael’s Arabic stories and frames them as the genesis of his representations of Arab-Jewish subjectivity, while also emphasizing the importance of the fact that a well-known Israeli writer began his literary career in Arabic. I argue that to sketch out a fuller picture of Michael’s literary voice, we must take into account the ways in which his early Arabic writings were precursors of his later Hebrew novels and how the process of abandoning his native language was formative even before his switch to Hebrew. The short stories discussed here all confront the ambivalences and, importantly, the possibilities that characterize Michael’s imagined Arab-Jewish subjectivity, suggesting it to be a literary sensibility fraught with a paradoxical sense of simultaneous potential and dissolution.
Arabian Nights, Hebrew Nights: On the Influence of Alf laylah wa-laylah on Jewish Culture in Palestine/Israel
This paper demonstrates how Jewish engagement with Arabic literature in Palestine/Israel provided an impetus for the Jewish cultural renaissance. By analyzing Yosef Yoel Rivlin’s Hebrew rendering of One Thousand and One Nights, it showcases how Arabic literature serviced Jewish nationalistic objectives by introducing the Arab other to a Jewish audience as the neighbor other and by enhancing a sense of attachment and belonging to the Oriental cultural world. Rivlin’s rendering of One Thousand and One Nights served as a prism through which his audience would view major issues that preoccupied the proponents of the emergent Jewish culture in Palestine/Israel. To reveal the nationalistic dimensions in Rivlin’s engagement with the Nights, this paper will approach the work as a window on discussion of the Jewish renaissance and return to the Orient, the Jewish self-conceptualization, the boundaries between the self and the other, the reconstruction of the Jewish past, and the enhancement of the modern Hebrew language and its literature.
We can’t understand ourselves without the Arabic: Dreams in Cambridge (2009)
In this paper I discuss the question of Jewish-Arab identity, its intergenerational differences, its different definitions in Hebrew and Arabic, and the differences in its usage in modern times and earlier periods. In Jewish-Arab identity, as in every identity, there is a mixture of self-identification and outer-identification. Whatever one’s reason for identifying as an Arab-Jew—whether related to the historical and cultural background or because one’s family identified this way prior to Zionism and immigration or in defiance of today’s national identities in Israel and the Arab world—it does not “have” to create as strong an objection as it does. However, the objection is understood when it is an outer-identification that flattens differences between historical periods, regions, or differences between the Jews of the Muslim world. In the late nineteenth century, Jewish-Arab identity was an identification with the Nahḍa movement, with the awakening of Arabic literature and language, and it sought to reweave Jewish-Arab identity, written culture, and memory into the Arab revival, or at least into the Arab literary imagination. Later, in the first half of the twentieth century, Jewish-Arab identity was an identification with local Arab nationalism in the different Arab lands, seen as a potential for a large-scale project, started by the intellectual elite, that would make Jews an integral and equal part of their societies. In the second half of the twentieth century, after 1948 and after immigration, mostly to Israel, Jewish-Arab identity was an identity that expressed criticism of both national projects, Jewish and Arab, their marginalization and nonacceptance of the Arab-Jews, and their exclusive and oppressive nature.
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