This fall, Interlink Books, an independent and immigrant-owned publisher, builds upon its extensive catalogue of fiction in translation from the Arab world with four noteworthy titles, three by female writers and one by Saudi Arabian novelist Abdel Rahman Munif, author of the monumental quintet, Cities of Salt.
In Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands, Sonia Nimr’s richly imagined historical fable recalls the famous travel narratives of the 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta. “In a tent at the foot of a mountain in Palestine, hundreds of years ago, our storyteller and her twin sister are born.” Her protagonist, Qamr, tells stories and takes on different guises to survive as she travels across continents. In strange lands that decree she cannot, Qamr will discover on her wondrous journeys that she can. Translated by Marcia Lynx Qualey.
Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Summer with the Enemy follows the charming, if at times difficult, everyday life of three Raqqan women: Lamis; her mother, Najwa; and her grandmother, Karma. “The western popular imagination about the now devastated city of Raqqa, Syria is filled with static and clichéd images of the Arab world.” A multi-generational family tale, this story demonstrates the complexity of life in Raqqa with attention to the intimate details of lives and relationships, and with an eye to the larger historical and political contexts in which they inhabit. Translated by Michelle Hartman.
Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, The American Granddaughter depicts the American occupation of Iraq through the eyes of a young Iraqi American woman, who returns to her country as an interpreter for the US Army. Through the narrator’s conflicting emotions, we see the tragedy of a country which, having battled to emerge from dictatorship, then finds itself under foreign occupation. Winner of France’s Lagardère Prize. Translated by Nariman Youssef.
Endings from the prodigious Abdel Rahman Munif is striking not only for its setting and style of narrative, but for being a vivid commentary on the emergence of the modern city and its urban middle class. Drought is not just an occasional but an enduring condition faced by the village of ai-Tiba—an allegory for all villages facing nature unaided by modern technology. Translated by Roger Allen.