You are considered one of Iraq’s most beloved novelists and your career spans more than half a century. At the same time, you served as a judge for 37 years. How exactly did you balance these two fundamentally different experiences?
So spoke the police officer overseeing the retrieval of my debit card from an ATM machine in Cairo. We had five hours to kill before the process would be successful, so I decided to interview him in his office about his reaction to “The Yacoubian Building.” He gladly obliged me. His comment above was in response to my question about the police brutality in the film version – actually a scene where a young political protester was tortured in a prison, with Mubarak’s picture in the background. “It’s the system that is corrupt. You have power according to how much money you have.
Doris Bittar is a Southern California-based Arab-American artist whose main medium has been painting. Bittar was born in Beirut and raised in Lebanon and the U.S., and her work draws its narrative force from the visual themes and interactions between the Middle East and the West.
Charbel Dagher, a professor at Balamand University, Lebanon, has been an active and prominent voice on the Arab cultural scene, mainly in the fields of poetry, Arabic language, and Arab and Islamic arts. In Islamic arts, Dagher published several major works which have received high praise from diverse groups of critics in the Arab world.
Al Jadid contributing Editor Doris Bittar interviewed Grace Feuerverger, author of “Oasis of Dreams.”
DB: Throughout “Oasis of Dreams” you allowed us to get to know your thoughts and your own personal narrative. Why was that important?
“Because I Am, as if I Were and I Am Not” was published in 2002 by Dar Al Intishar Al Arabi in Beirut. Last summer, I met with Sabah Zwein, the author, in a café on Hamra Street in West Beirut, and we had an engaging conversation about her life, her work, and her place in the literary scene of post-war Lebanon. Zwein, a poet, literary critic, and journalist, was born of a Lebanese father and a Spanish mother. She grew up in Lebanon and traveled extensively in Europe and North America.
Translator, poet, and critic, Ammiel Alcalay is the author of several books, including “After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture,” “The Cairo Notebooks,” and “Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing.” His most recent book, “Memories of Our Future,” is an eclectic collection of essays written between 1982-1999 (see review in Al Jadid, issue no. 33).
Would you please introduce yourself, and give us some idea of your background?
Hafez al-Assad died four days before I visited Syria on a Malone Fellowship. When I arrived, the ubiquitous pictures of Hafez were draped with strips of black cloth, and heir apparent Bashar's picture was displayed alongside his father's. The Malone Fellows arrived just at this time of transition, when hopes for a better future mingled with feelings of grief and relief at Assad's passing.
Edward Said is a free thinker, an uncompromising moralist, a talented and encyclopedic intellectual, and a great