This dazzling anthology features the work of seventy-nine outstanding writers from all over the Arab-speaking world, from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east, Syria in the north to Sudan in the south.
Edited by Denys Johnson-Davies, called by Edward Said “the leading Arabic-to-English translator of our time,” this treasury of Arab voices is diverse in styles and concerns, but united by a common language. It spans the full history of modern Arabic literature, from its roots in western cultural influence at the end of the nineteenth century to the present-day flowering of Naguib Mahfouz’s literary sons and daughters. Among the Egyptian writers who laid the foundation for the Arabic literary renaissance are the great Tawfik al-Hakim; the short story pioneer Mahmoud Teymour; and Yusuf Idris, who embraced Egypt’s vibrant spoken vernacular. An excerpt from the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih’s novel Season of Migration to the North, one of the Arab world’s finest, appears alongside the Libyan writer Ibrahim al-Koni’s tales of the Tuaregs of North Africa, the Iraqi writer Mohamed Khudayir’s masterly story “Clocks Like Horses,” and the work of such women writers as Lebanon’s Hanan al-Shaykh and Morocco’s Leila Abouzeid.
Denys Johnson-Davies, “the leading Arabic-English translator of our time” according to Edward Said, translated more than twenty-five volumes of short stories, novels, plays, and poetry, and was the first to translate the work of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He was also interested in Islamic studies and co-translated three volumes of Prophetic Hadith. He wrote a number of children’s books adapted from traditional Arabic sources, and a collection of his own short stories, Fate of a Prisoner, was published in 1999. Born in Canada and educated in England, he grew up in Sudan and East Africa, and later divided his time between Marrakesh and Cairo. He died in 2017.