Inside Al Jadid 73

ESSAYS

Samir Frangieh (1946-2017): A Statesman Unlike Any Other
By Elie Chalala

Secularism and Despotism
By Hazem Saghieh
 
Celluloid Consciences: News of Sednaya Prison
By Najwa Barakat
 
Organ Donation Gives Senseless Lebanese Tragedy Meaning
By Naomi Pham

 
FILMS
 
Gay and Arab in Israel
“Oriented,” set in Tel Aviv, presents the dilemmas of three gay Arab men struggling with their Arab/Palestinian identities in Israeli society. While the film doesn’t cover new territory in terms of sexual politics in Israel or in Arab cultures, it does introduce us to three differing responses to Arab/Palestinian identity at a time of heightened conflict: up to and including the 2014 Gaza War…The refreshing lack of any ideological statements about Arab or sexual identity in Israel allows the film to focus on the individual struggles of these three young Arabs, who happen to be gay.” “Oriented” is reviewed by Pamela Nice in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).

Ottoman Empire: Losing the Balkans and Middle East
A two-part documentary directed by Mathilde Damoisel, “The End of the Ottoman Empire” addresses the decline and fall of the Ottomans. The film deals first with the loss of the Balkan territories and subsequent repercussions, and then with the empire’s losses in the Middle East. The film’s structure and subject matter make it best to approach these two parts separately. "The End of the Otttoman Empire" is reviewed by Fawaz Azem in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Little Time to Rest: "Daughters" of Nomads
Watching “Daughters of Anatolia,” a film documenting the nomadic lifestyle of goat herders in contemporary Turkey, makes one aware of the value of ethnographic filmography over its drier, academic prose cousin. Describing the migratory path from the Mediterranean Sea to the Taurus Mountains cannot compare with seeing the breath-taking beauty of mountains in bloom as goats scramble over them. "Daughters of Anatolia" is reviewed by Pamela Nice in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
The Echoing Silence of Tadmor
Ghosts of the past come in many forms. For some, they exist as memories, recollections of humiliation or pain. For others, they live in the dead. A telling confrontation with all of these manifestations, Monika Borgmann and Lokman Slim’s "Tadmor" speaks volumes on the lasting impacts of systematic torture and degradation. "Tadmor" is reviewed by Naomi Pham in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).

 

BOOKS
 

"2084" Proves Less than Orwellian
If anyone can take brooding existentialism to a new level of divisiveness, Algerian author Boualem Sansal, with his novel “2084: The End of the World”, proves up to the task. A dark, droning fantasy, “2084” depicts a future where state-sponsored ignorance and mindless faith have created a zombie-like society run by a clergy of autocrats. In between idiosyncratic snippets of pseudo-wisdom, a moral of sorts unfolds; a moral that attaches itself to a popular narrative, but one that lends itself to predictability. "2084" is reviewed by D.W. Aossey in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).

Western Policy Disconnects and the Arab Spring
What happened to the Arab Spring? Scarcely seven years have passed since those momentous events threatened to free large swaths of the Middle East from decades of artificially imposed social and political rot. No doubt, the fact that no one asks this question any longer indicates how far the countries of the region have drifted from the initial momentum that brought down long standing dictator-brands in Tunisia and Egypt. "Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East" is reviewed by Michael Teague in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).

 
Rocking the Boat: Examining Arab-American History and Activism
An associate professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Pamela Pennock has written a lucid, flowing, if Michigan-centric history, with a modicum of eastern U.S. events, and a mere smattering set in this reviewer’s remote Siberian outpost of California. A Washington-based history it is not – yet it contains an abundance of records concerning activities in the capital. Pennock devotes 22 pages to the case of Sirhan Sirhan, and how it shaped both the general public’s and Arab-American activists’ attitudes. "The Rise of the Arab American Left, Activists, Allies and Their Fight Against Imperialism and Racism, 1960s-1980s" is reviewed by Anthony Saidy in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Tunisian Poetry for Loudspeakers, Kings, and Fruit-Sellers
With its unadorned cover featuring only a simple a flower border announcing Pacifica Poetry International’s 2015 issue, “Revolutions in Tunisian Poetry,” this bilingual collection of poetry would be easy to overlook on a shelf. And what a shame to miss out on the vast and stunning universes humbly printed on the yellow pages within. This issue wants to be read, with the poems meant to pierce and to spur, not written for remote ivory towers or unpeopled forests, but for loudspeakers, for kings, and for fruit-sellers. "Revolutions in Tunisian Poetry" is reviewed by Priscilla Wathington in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Fostering Resistance and Resilience through Revolutionary Syrian Art
In her latest book, Miriam cooke brings her intimate understanding of Syrian society, various aesthetic theories, and her own critical insight to the topic of Syrian artist-activists producing revolutionary art. The questions she raises about such art could apply to situations across the globe, where art may have political ends even if it seeks to be “politically agnostic.” "Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience, and the Syrian Revolution" is reviewed by Pamela Nice in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Calling the Sudan: Diaspora, Identity, and Technology
A collection of essays on Sudan and the diaspora, “Networks of Knowledge Production in the Sudan, Identities, Mobilities and Technologies,” edited by Sondra Hale and Gada Kadoda, contains both cutting edge scholarship and academic responses to previous scholarship on the region. In her introduction, Nancy Gallagher describes the common concern of all the essay writers as “the struggle for more egalitarian political, economic and social structures locally and internationally.” Most draw from a 2015 interdisciplinary symposium held in Khartoum, an area with one of the highest migration rates in the world. "Networks of Knowledge Production in the Sudan, Identities, Mobilities and Technologies" is reviewed by Lynne Rogers in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
‘The Crown Prince of Arab Poetry’: In Jerusalem and Other Poems, 1997-2017
This selection of greatest hits serves to introduce Tamim al-Barghouti – at 40 a profoundly accomplished poet, wildly popular in the Arab world – to an English-reading audience. “The crown prince of Arab poetry,” as writer M. Lynx Qualey has called him, employs both classical and colloquial Arabic. His image can be found on posters and key chains throughout Palestine, and sections of his famous title poem are used as cell phone ringtones and memorized by school children. "In Jerusalem and Other Poems: Written Between 1997-2017" is reviewed by Angele Ellis in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Massacre Redux: The Haunting Images of Samia Halaby
The Kafr Qasem massacre of October 29, 1956 literally brought the living and the dead into an unexpected embrace. Artist Samia Halaby’s choreographed drawings create a pictorial narrative that bridges her abstract sensibility to memorialize the Kafr Qasem massacre. In addition, Halaby employs the tragedy to measure and bear witness against the oblivion of history. "Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre" is reviewed by Doris Bittar in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Distant Homelands: Loss, Longing, and Limbo
In a foreign land, far from everything familiar, one cannot help but believe that ‘home is where the heart is.’ After all, distance will often stir a deep sense of longing for loved ones and the comforts of home. Maryam Abdel-Fattah, Ibtihal Salem’s protagonist in “A Small Box in the Heart,” faces alienation and isolation after departing from her home country in search for work. "A Small Box in the Heart" is reviewed by Naomi Pham in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Alameddine: Drawing Parrallels between Victims of HIV and Geopolitics
In his recent novel, “The Angel of History,” Rabih Alameddine turns his attention back to the victims of the HIV epidemic while taking an imaginative and global leap into the spiritual and historical world of saints and sinners. Filled with cultural and religious allusions, Alameddine’s innovative narrative opens with the dapper Satan interviewing his son and nemesis, Death, in the kitchen of the Arab protagonist and erstwhile poet, Jacob, once known as Ya’coub, who now, at worst, answers to the name Jake. "The Angel of History" is reviewed by Lynne Rogers in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
Syria’s Arab Spring: One Woman’s Experiences
Decades ago, the grandmother of human rights lawyer and journalist Alia Malek – a woman Malek calls “Salma” – bought an apartment in downtown Damascus, but lost it to a stubborn tenant. The tenant did nothing illegal, but merely exploited an existing, pro-tenant Syrian law which allowed him to remain in the apartment without paying. Eventually, Malek’s family found a way to regain control of the apartment, and at the start of the Arab Spring, Malek herself returned to Syria to claim it. She also had another goal: conducting research for a planned memoir about her grandmother’s life. "The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria" is reviewed by Susan Muaddi Darraj in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
“The Spy Who Fell to Earth” Falls Short of the Mark
A collection of personal ruminations dressed up as a spy story, “The Spy Who Fell to Earth” by King’s College History Professor, Ahron Bregman, recounts the life and death of Ashraf Marwan, son-in-law of Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and master Israeli spy. Or was he? "The Spy Who Fell to Earth" is reviewed by D.W. Aossey in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
The Thresholds Nights: Tales from Upper Egypt, Cairo and Alexandria
In January 2015, Mahmoud Aboudoma published his second autobiographical series of short stories, “‘atab al-Beyout: Ahfad SidiSoliman al-Kabeer” (“Thresholds: The Grandchildren of the Great Sidi Soliman”). Born and raised in Upper Egypt, the writer and theatre director spent part of his youth in Cairo before relocating to Alexandria. Those three cities have become intertwined in the essence of his life and writings. Divided into an introduction and ten chapters, the stories focus less on Aboudoma’s past and present life than on his ancestors and an Egyptian history immersed in folklore, superstitions and oral traditions. "Thresholds: The Grandchildren of the Great Sidi Soliman (In Arabic)" is reviewed by Nada Ramadan Elnahla in the forthcoming Al Jadid (Vol. 21, No. 73, 2017).
 
 
FICTION
 
SOAS
By Hanna Saadah
 
 
POETRY
 
A Damascene Lover in the Time of War
By Gebran Saad