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Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Words Without Borders Anthologies)by Reza Aslan
Synopses & Reviews
The countries that stretch along the broad horizons of the Middle East--from Morocco to Iran, from Turkey to Pakistan--boast different cultures, different languages, and different religions. Yet the literary landscape of this dynamic part of the world has been bound together not by borders and nationalities, but by a common experience of Western imperialism. Keenly aware of the collected scars left by a legacy of colonial rule, the acclaimed writer Reza Aslan, with a team of four regional editors and seventy-seven translators, cogently demonstrates with Tablet and Pen how literature can, in fact, be used to form identity and serve as an extraordinary chronicle of the disrupted histories of the region.
Acting with Words Without Borders, which fosters international exchange through translation and publication of the world's finest literature, Aslan has purposefully situated this volume in the twentieth century, beyond the familiar confines of the Ottoman past, believing that the writers who have emerged in the last hundred years have not received their full due. This monumental collection, therefore, of nearly two hundred pieces, including short stories, novels, memoirs, essays and works of drama--many of them presented in English for the first time--features translated works from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Turkish. Organized chronologically, the volume spans a century of literature--from the famed Arab poet Khalil Gibran to the Nobel laureates Naguib Mahfouz and Orhan Pamuk, from the great Syrian-Lebanese poet Adonis to the grand dame of Urdu fiction, Ismat Chughtai--connected by the extraordinarily rich tradition of resplendent cultures that have been all too often ignored by the Western canon.
By shifting America's perception of the Middle Eastern world away from religion and politics, Tablet and Pen evokes the splendors of a region through the voices of its writers and poets, whose literature tells an urgent and liberating story. With a wealth of contextual information that places the writing within the historical, political, and cultural breadth of the region, Tablet & Pen is transcendent, a book to be devoured as a single sustained narrative, from the first page to the last. Creating a vital bridge between two estranged cultures, "this is that rare anthology: cohesive, affecting, and informing" (Publishers Weekly).
"This mammoth anthology goes a long way toward achieving its equally mammoth goal: to shift American views of the Middle East away 'from the ubiquitous images of terrorists and fanatics.' With selections covering the past 100 years and from countries as diverse as Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and Pakistan, the book presents a progression from largely premodern tales through mid-century post-colonialism to a contemporary globalized Islam and Middle East. Despite the panoramic view and the dazzling array of writers, it all hangs together exceedingly well, and the carefully conceived scaffolding is in service of some extraordinary literature. Jalal Al-e Ahmad's 'Gharbzadegi' (roughly translated as 'Westoxification'), a passionate call for Arabs to stop aping the West, could give today's pundit class several lessons in wit and rhetoric. The outstanding excerpt from Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl should get the neglected translation some new readers. These prose pieces are met by equally accomplished poetry that ranges from the ranks of titans Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish to a host of lesser-knowns plying a range of styles and subjects. An impressive success that spans vast regions of time and territory, this is that rare anthology: cohesive, affecting, and informing. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
With the help of four regional editors, scores of translators, support from Words without Borders, and a grant from amazon.com, Aslan (creative writing, U. of California, Riverside) has brought together this literary anthology, which is situated in the 20th century. Roughly 200 pieces--short stories, novels, memoirs, essays, and poems--have been translated (many for the first time) from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Turkish. The collection is organized chronologically and linguistically and includes contextual material throughout. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A landmark literary event, this groundbreaking work spans a century of literature by the region's best writers—from the famed Arab poet Khalil Gibran to the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk—all of them bound together not by borders and nationalities but by a common experience of colonial domination and western imperialism. As best-selling author Reza Aslan writes, the mesmerizing prose of the Middle East-Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu-has been virtually excluded from the canon available to English readers. Under the umbrella of Words Without Borders, Aslan has assembled this extraordinary collection of short stories, memoirs, essays, and poems, featuring both contemporary and historical works, with many of the selections newly appearing in English. Featuring literature from countries as diverse as Morocco and Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, Tablet & Penis a long-awaited work that is to be devoured as a single sustained narrative from the first page to the last.
A volume that celebrates the magnificent achievement of twentieth-century Middle Eastern literature that has been neglected in the English-speaking world.
"Remarkable . . . a triumph . . . connects us at the level of our humanity, no matter where we may be from."--Los Angeles Times
Featuring marvelous translations of works from countries as diverse as Morocco and Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, Tablet and Pen finally endows twentieth-century Middle Eastern literature with a primacy in the English language that it much deserves. Edited by Reza Aslan, this groundbreaking volume features new translations of stories and poems, essays and memoirs from Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.
"This landmark collection of writings from the modern Middle East reminds us of the region's magnificent and proud literary tradition. That would be gift enough. But the powerful voices within these pages also guide us past clichéd perceptions of the region as a hotbed for militants and extremists and bring to life the hopes, aspirations, and struggles--indeed the common humanity--of one of the world's most diverse and fascinating regions." --Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
INCLUDES THE WRITINGS OF:
Kahlil Gibran, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Nâzim Hikmet, Ismat Chughtai, Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Forugh Farrokhzad, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Yaşar Kemal, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Ahmad Shamloo, Naguib Mahfouz, Orhan Pamuk
A Words Without Borders Anthology
About the Author
Reza Aslan lives in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. His books include the bestseller No god but God and How to Win a Cosmic War. He lives in Los Angeles.
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