Essays and Features

Emile Habibi, The Pessoptimist Who Went Global

Omar Zane

Emile Habibi died in early May, 1996 in his home in Nazareth. In addition to being a great Palestinian writer he was an exceptional character as well. His presence, his tongue and his written words added a certain lightness to the otherwise unbearably sad Palestinian and blighted Arab experience of the last seven decades. He witnessed events unfold, and for many years recorded the stories of an area which had acquired a much bigger foot print than its geographic size.

For a Friend Sorely Missed

Moayyad al-Rawi (1939-2015)
Elie Chalala

This brief column can only begin to do justice to Iraqi poet and critic Moayyad al-Rawi. A longer tribute will appear in Al Jadid’s next issue later this year (Vol. 23, No. 77, 2019).

Moayyad, who died in 2015, fled the Iraqi dictatorship in 1970 for Lebanon, making it his first stop in a life in exile; it is there I met him. Imprisonment and repression following the 1963 Baathist coup forced him to leave Baghdad and Kirkuk, which he loved, and which figured prominently in his writings.

Uninterrupted Fugue: Uprootedness in Kamal Boullata’s Work

By Gérard Xuriguera

Contemporary artists adhering to Constructivism were not solely content with respecting the orthodoxy of its ethic. From Malevitch to Mondrian through the Bauhaus and up to this day, the structural unfolding of this art of simplification and of exactitude has at times been refined, at other times made more complex; all along, it continued to explore different venues that retraced  the founding precepts without relinquishing its rigor.

Ali al-Shawk in the Eyes of One Acquaintance

Mahmoud Saeed

Ali al-Shawk’s death leaves an empty space that no one can fill. He was prolific, thoughtful, articulate, and of high manners. Personally, I thought of him as one of the most cultured intellectuals I have met inside or outside of Iraq. His cultural depth owed to the greatness and diversity of his reading, which included his fluent command of English, from which he translated several books.

‘Sexuality in the Arab World’: Book Attempts to Shed Multi-Faceted Light on Subject Long in the Shadows

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
Al Jadid Staff

“Sexuality in the Arab World” has fascinated many Western scholars, though not as many Arabs, mainly for political and cultural reasons. Edited by Samir Khalaf and John Gagnon, this book first appeared in English in 2005 and then was published in Arabic by Dar al-Saqi in 2015, translated by Osama Manzalji. Novelist and critic Mahmoud Houjeiri has reviewed this book in Arabic, a review that offers an Arab perspective which is worthy of sharing and translating. 

Prolific in Exile: An Appreciation of the Life and Work of Ali al-Shawk

Forthcoming in Al Jadid
Al Jadid Staff

A prolific author and reader, Ali al-Shawk embodied scholarship, transforming himself into a veritable encyclopedia of intellectual knowledge. His humility endeared him to his friends and set a worthy example for others. He remains particularly known for being a good listener and for his non-confrontational ways, listening “to you until you finished talking before offering his own opinion,” according to Mahmoud Saeed. His writings encompassed the topics of mathematics, music, painting, literature, etymology, mythology, and science, and he wrote continuously until his death in his London home this year.


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