The History of a Word 02/07/20
Publisher: Comma Press
This anthology features stories by Nedim Gursel (Istanbul), Gamal Al-Ghitani (Alexandria), Fadwa Al-Qasem (Dubai), Ala Hlehel (Akka), Hassan Blasim (Baghdad), Yousef Al-Mohaimeed (Riyadh), Elias Farkouh (Amman), Nabil Sulayman (Latakia), Joumana Haddad (Beirut), and Yitzhak Laor (Tel Aviv).
‘Madinah’ – the Arabic word for ‘city’ – may conjure labyrinthine streets and the hustle and bustle of the souq in Westerners’ minds, but for the inhabitants of the Middle East it is a much more mercurial thing, and one that’s changing today faster than ever.
Here – in ten urban stories set across the region – the city reveals itself through a vibrant array of characters: from the celebrated author collecting an award in the city that exiled him decades before, to the forlorn lover waiting at a rendezvous as government officials raid nearby shops, confiscating ‘wanton’ Valentine’s Day roses.
Whilst engineers race to complete another ‘world’s tallest building’ in Dubai, and American helicopters patrol the Martyrs Bridge in Baghdad, we realise it is the people, and not the landmarks, that define these places; like the language student in Beirut who tries to make a joke of being ‘war-broken’ to her friends, or the Israeli General who invites guests to his office to watch promo videos for the tank that will ‘win the next war’ whilst eating biscuits and reciting poetry.