Book Review: The hidden treasures of Jordanian literature

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By Manal Shakir

snow“Snow in Amman” is a collection of short stories from Jordan, translated and edited by Ibtihal Mahmood and Alexander Haddad. The collection comprises stories spanning across generations, written by both men and women from Jordan, a country enriched by its history and sustained by a deep literary tradition. The stories encompass all aspects of life, both introspective and haunting, with insightful depictions of the life in the country.

The book opens with a short note from author Samir Al-Sharif, also featured in the collection. He takes the reader through a quick overview of Jordan’s literary journey, from the beginning of the 20th century to the end. He starts with the work of Khalil Baida, Mohammad Subhi Abu Ghanimeh and Mahmoud Seife Ad-Din AlIrani, writers who dominated the 1930s. Nestled in the heart of the Middle East, Jordan’s location has much to do with its ever-changing narrative, as pointed out by Al-Sharif. By the early 1950s, there is a “significant transformation,” which comes in the form of social and political change, and the influx of Palestinians after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This “changed the way Jordanians conceive space, culture and identity,” as it changed much of the consciousness of the Arab world.

With the change, Jordanian authors thrived, and they did so through the 1967 war with Israel, the Lebanese civil war, Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf war. By the end of the century, women emerged onto the scene and took literature in a different, monumental direction. Read more

Source: Arab News

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