Origins of the Noble Warrior vs. Bad Beast

1. Action Comics #664 (USA, 1991)

2. Doc Savage: The Land of Terror (USA, 1965)

3. Archangel slaying the Devil (Italy, 1860)

4. Hercules combattant Achelous (France, 1824)

5. Saint George Slaying the Dragon (Catalonia, 1434-35)

6. Rostam Slaying a Dragon (Persia, 1400)

7. Zocho-ten (Japan, 1185-1333)

8. Horus on Horseback Killing Seth or Setekh (Egypt, 400 AD)

9. Cadmus Slaying the Dragon (Greece, 550-60 BC)

10. Set spearing Apep (Egypt 1550 BC)

Origin of Dragons

1. Dragonheart (USA, 1996)

2. The Rhinegold & the Valkyrie (UK, 1910)

3. Dragon by Hokusai (Japan, 1830)

4. Longshan Temple (Taiwan, 1738)

5. Leyf of Seynt George (Westminster, 1515)

6. Rostam Slaying a Dragon (Persia, 1400)

7. Quetzalcoatl (Mexico, 150 AD)

8. Mosiac of a Dragon (Italy, 300 BC)

9. A Flying Serpent (unknown?)

10. Wedjet (Egypt, 1336 BC)

Vintage Egyptian film production logos, Series #2 compiled by Lana Al Sennawy

Vintage Egyptian film production logos, Series #1 compiled by Lana Al Sennawy

Manazer #29 by Ganzeer

Manazer #29 by Ganzeer

Manazer #28 by Ganzeer

Egypt: What to Expect on June 30th - by Ganzeer

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I don’t think I remember this sort of anticipation for a day in Egypt since January 28th of 2011. Sure there’s always been the anticipation leading up to the two January 25th anniversaries since the first January 25th of 2011, the day the Egyptian revolution is considered to have kicked off, but the anticipation of June 30th of this year, much like January 28th of 2011, is not the result of an impending anniversary, but rather out of an expectancy to overthrow the regime. This would make your regular outsider assume that what’s in store for June 30th of 2013 is probably very akin to what happened on January 28th, 2011. Due to a number of different circumstances accompanying the lead up to June 30th of this year, I do believe things could end very very differently.

Back in January 28, 2011, there wasn’t a major precedence of violence other than that of January 25, which was, to be fair, quite limited. Also, most people were under the assumption that if participation was in large numbers, there was no way authorities would have the nerve of resorting to violence. This meant that most people were not armed with much else than their voices. Moreover, back then pretty much everyone was fed up with Mubarak’s regime, and if you weren’t then you were probably of the passive sort, a member of what we Egyptians like to refer to as Hezb El Kanaba or The Couch Party. This meant that there was definitely no expectancy that it could ever be possible to clash with fellow civilians. Now that people have become witness to all sorts of violence on part of authorities for the past couple of years, they know what to expect and they will want to be prepared for it. Add to that the knowledge that a significant percentage of the populace is supportive of The Muslim Brotherhood, or rather… is The Brotherhood. This means that civil clashes is not only considered possible but actually quite inevitable.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

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Instead of the standard review approach, where one particular writer will get on a high horse and tell the world about his/her opinion on a film, fellow artist and flat mate Taha Bilal and myself decided to sit down and talk about Alison Klayman’s documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. It’s usually what one does after seeing a film anyway: we talk about the film and discuss the film, right? 

So it seems like the best way to sort of review things.

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Taha Bilal: So had you heard of Ai Weiwei before watching the film?
Ganzeer: Oh yeah plenty. Especially in regards to his arrest and blog being suspended or something like that. You?

Taha: Yeah, but… I knew of him as…uhhhh?
Ganzeer: As activist or artist?

Taha: I think as an artist.
Ganzeer: And what exactly was the impression or idea you had of him in your head?

Taha: Uhhh — He was doing cool work. Cool, conceptual artwork. Like… I remember seeing one of his most famous pieces; those vases with Coca-Cola painted on them.
Ganzeer: Aha.

Taha: Or the one with him breaking the old vase. Which, I would say, formally looks and fits with a very Western idea of what Contemporary Art is. 
Ganzeer: Also fits Western ideologies, no? That there’s this Chinese man taking Chinese heritage and breaking it! By doing so stating that he doesn’t want any of that and that he wants something new, something different. This, of course, matches Western ideologies very much and fits with their belief in that Western culture should be the dominant culture, the culture embraced by all. And probably can be seen as very offensive to… not only the Chinese government but to many Chinese people even.

Taha: Yeah. But at the same time I can relate to that sometimes one would want to… be like fuck all this Pharaonic heritage shit, y’know?
Ganzeer: Really, dude? I wish we had more Pharaonic heritage going on! We got nothing and everything! It’s a mess!

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I Was Born There, I Was Born Here: An Audio Book Review

We’re pleased to present the Cairo Book Club’s first podcast: a discussion of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here by Palestinian author Mourid Barghouti, a sequel to his much-lauded memoir I Saw Ramallah. The English translation by Humphrey Davies was named runner-up for the 2012 Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and Davies was very kind in joining us for our discussion of the book and on translation. 

Mourid Barghouti is a prominent and celebrated Palestinian poet and has spent most of his life in exile. Born in 1944 in the village of Deir Ghassaneh near Ramallah, he graduated from Cairo University in 1967. He has been published throughout the Middle East and lives and works in Cairo. He has published twelve books of poetry, the last of which is Midnight. His collected works were published in Beirut in 1997, and in the same year his memoir, I Saw Ramallah, an account of his first visit home after thirty years, won the 1997 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. I Was Born There, I Was Born Here was published in Arabic in 2009, and the translation by Humphrey Davies was published by Bloomsbury in 2011.

Humphrey Davies is a renowned translator of Arabic literature, two-time winner and twotime runner up of the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. His translations include Alaa Al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, Ahmed Alaidy’s Being Abbas el Abd, Hamdy elGazzar’s Black Magic, Elias Khoury’s The Gate of the Sun and Yalo and Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis among many others. His translation of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here was named runner-up for the 2012 Banipal Prize, about which the committee wrote:

“Davies catches the spirit of the original text and lets us feel and enjoy the beauty of his English prose. He has adopted exactly the right palette of both vocabulary and tone right the way through, giving readers the beautifully rendered revisiting of a riven landscape. In this fluid translation of a thoughtful and moving book he manages a rare thing – to make you feel you are reading the book in the language in which it was written. The great skill in his translation is not just in the sophisticated understanding of the original… it is also in the rendering of an apparently effortless, yet deeply nuanced English prose.”

As a resource for voracious readers, other books we mention in this podcast include:

  • I Saw Ramallah, by Mourid Barghouti
  • Gate of the Sun, by Elias Khoury
  • House of Stone, by Anthony Shadid
  • Being Abbas el Abd, by Ahmed Alaidy
  • Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil
  • Leg Over Leg, by Ahmad Faris Shidyaq
  • Secret Pleasures, by Hamdy el-Gazzar
  • Palestinian Walks, by Raja Shehadeh

We also mention the Palestine Festival of Literature, an annual literary festival established in 2008 which ran from May 25-31 this year. If you would like a chance to win a bilingual copy of this year’s PalFest anthology, enter the summer reading contest over at Arabic Literature (in English).

Thank you to Humphrey Davies for joining us, and thanks to everyone who participated in our discussion: Raphael Cormack, Ismail Wahby, Nancy Linthicum, Will Barnes, Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Laura Dean, Moustafa Kamel, and Elisabeth Jaquette.

You can also download the podcast from our Soundcloud.

Cairo Book Club is a bilingual literary circle established in 2009 and based in Cairo. We meet monthly to discuss Arabic literature in Arabic and English, and you can see what we’re reading here.

Elisabeth Jaquette is a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University and a 2012–13 CASA (Center for Arabic Study Abroad) fellow at the American University in Cairo. She has been based in Cairo since 2007, and is currently translating Basma Abdel-Aziz’s novel The Queue. You can follow her on Twitter at @lissiejaquette.

Manazer #27 by Gianluca Costantini - 17/6/2013

Manazer #27 by Gianluca Costantini - 17/6/2013