That Smell & Notes from Prison

Fiction by Sonallah Ibrahim

Translated from the Arabic by Robyn Creswell

Edited by Robyn Creswell

That Smell is Sonallah Ibrahim’s modernist masterpiece and one of the most influential novels written in Arabic since WWII. Composed after a five-year term in prison, the semi-autobiographical story follows a recently released political prisoner as he wanders through Cairo, adrift in his native city. Living under house arrest, he tries to write of his tortuous experience, but instead smokes, spies on the neighbors, visits old lovers, and marvels at Egypt’s new consumer culture.…
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The Tongue of Adam

Nonfiction by Abdelfattah Kilito

Translated from the French by Robyn Creswell

In the beginning there was one language—one tongue that Adam used to compose the first poem, an elegy for Abel. “These days, no one bothers to ask about the tongue of Adam. It is a naive question, vaguely embarrassing and irksome, like questions posed by children, which one can only answer rather stupidly.” So begins Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Tongue of Adam, a delightful series of lectures. With a Borgesian flair for riddles, stories, and subtle scholarly distinctions, Kilito presents an assortment of discussions related to Adam’s tongue, including translation, comparative religion, and lexicography: for example, how, from Babel onward, can we explain the plurality of language?…
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The Clash of Images

Fiction by Abdelfattah Kilito

Translated from the Arabic by Robyn Creswell

Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images is a sweet, Borgesian mix of bildungsroman memoir, family history, short-story collection, fable, and literary criticism. Written in a graceful and charming style, Kilito’s story takes place in an unnamed coastal city of memories where a child experiences first-hand the cultural clash of text and image in a changing, modern society. The story unfolds in the medina, the msid (or Koranic school), the neighborhood hammam (or bathhouse), summer camp, and the local cinema––canished sites that inspire Kilito’s meditation and eulogy.…
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Songs of Mihyar and Damascene

Poetry by Adonis

Translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

With a contribution by Robyn Creswell

Written while Adonis was on a scholarship in Paris from 1960 to 1961, Songs of Mihyar the Damascene is widely considered to be the apex of the modernist poetry movement in the Arab world. Drawing not only on Western influences, such as T. S. Eliot and Nietzsche, but on his own culture’s deep poetry traditions, Adonis single-handedly accomplished a masterful and radical transformation of the rigid formal structures and themes of Arabic poetry.…
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