Amit Chaudhuri matches the glorious nothingness of Afternoon Raag at last with his beautiful new novel about a bookish young Bengali Everyman and his uncle in London: Open

AmitThis is the story of Ananda, a 22-year old Indian man and an aspiring poet in exile, full of the usual contradictions. He is a student of English literature in London but at odds with the city. He reads poetry even in the bathroom, but despises novels. He has not bothered to read The Odyssey and though he has waded through Ulysses, he did not enjoy it, except briefly when a customs man at JFK discovered it in his luggage. Yet, with characteristic playfulness, Amit Chaudhuri layers over the persona of his protagonist that most inter-textual of archetypes, Odysseus.

The only literature review that translates contemporary English-language works into Arabic, Al-Bawtaka Review’s founder Hala Salah’s new venture will see her produce audiobooks for the blind. We speak to the bookworm about liberalising literature: Cairoscene

She single-handedly launched Al-Bawtaka Review (The Melting Pot Review) the first and only outlet for Arabic translations of contemporary English-language literature, made available completely free of charge online. But she’s not stopping there. Hala Salah is now venturing onwards to new grounds with her latest audiobook project, sponsored by UNESCO and entitled This is Not Chick Lit: Stories by Ordinary Women in and Beyond Turmoil. The project is set to provide translated texts available to the blind in the form of audiobooks, in what is probably the first major effort to make literature widely available to the blind.

We speak to her about her history with Al-Bawtaka Review, the audiobook project, and her reasons behind launching both.

Tell us a little about yourself.