A look at the best new Arabic titles in English translation

By M Lynx Qualey

A bestselling 13th-century cookbook; stories by popular Al Bernameg TV host Bassem Youssef; a controversial book about Saudi women and award-winning Iraqi novels are among the noteworthy English works coming from Arab authors this spring.

The new year promises several strong reads from and about Syria. This month, Haus Publishing kicks off their Modern Arabic Classics series with Ascension to Death by celebrated Syrian author Mamdouh Azzam. In the novel, translated by Max Weiss, a love story runs up against an unforgiving family and regime. Ascension to Death was one of three books chosen by Samar Yazbek for the 2012 Finnegan’s List project, a list of works in urgent need of translation.

In February, Perseus Books will bring out Alia Malek’s The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria. The Syrian-American author and civil rights lawyer was last year’s winner of the US$50,000 (Dh183,600) Hiett Prize for her writing about Syria.

This new book promises to interleave history and the author’s emotional return to her Damascus family home.

Also from Syria, New Directions is to bring out a new short-story collection by Osama Alomar, The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories, translated by C J Collins. This is the second collection in English for Alomar, who now lives in Chicago. These sharp, allegorical stories are in the tradition of the great Zakaria Tamer. Read more

Source: The National