Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interlude: Literary recommendations from Libya

While I work on Part II of Blacklists & Boycotts, I wanted to share this beautiful, beautiful essay by Libyan writer Hisham Matar in The Guardian.

I particularly love his description of the women in his family as "mad scientists, whisking up egg, honey, olive oil and God-knows-what..." It reminded me of the beauty routines Moroccan writer Fatema Mernissi described in her own memoir, Dreams of Trespass.

One of the things we - as an international community - must take ourselves to task for is allowing ourselves to buy into the idea that Gaddafi is Libya. As hard as it is to get accurate information out of Libya right now, it's even harder for outside observers to see Libya or Libyans as anything other than Gaddafi's victims. What exactly is this country that so many are now dying to see free of its addled but ruthless dictator? It's frankly hard for us to imagine.

Literature is one of the best correctives for that sort of mental gap, if not the best, and it so happens that Arabic Literature (in English) has [in honor of Banipal's highly prescient issue on Libyan Fiction] an excellent rundown of Libyan authors and where you can find their work.

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