#YMERC2020 February Part 1

Ahlan wa sahlan!

Thank you for joining in with us in the Year of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge (YMERC).

As promised, I will begin each month with:

  • A book or two by a Middle Eastern author
  • A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
  • A new Arabic song to listen to throughout the month

At the end of each month, I’ll post:

  • My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
  • A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month

I’m really excited to share with you our FIRST ever #YMERC2020 titles!

#YMERC Book of the Month

The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

“Listen. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story.”

An inventive, exuberant novel that takes us from the shimmering dunes of ancient Egypt to the war-torn streets of twenty-first-century Lebanon.

In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father’s deathbed.

Osama’s grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories—of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of how he earned the name al-Kharrat, the fibster—are interwoven with classic tales of the Middle East, stunningly reimagined. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the ancient, fabled Fatima; and Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders. Here, too, are contemporary Lebanese whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war—and of survival.

Like a true hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century—a funny, captivating novel that enchants and dazzles from its very first lines: “Listen. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story.”

#YMERC Graphic Novel of the Month

Metro: A Story of Cairo by Magdy El Shafee

The first graphic novel of the Arab world, a brilliant portrait of a bank robbery and two friends’ breakneck escape through an edgy, pulsing Cairo on the brink of explosion

When Shihab runs afoul of a loan shark, all avenues of salvation in Mubarak’s corrupt, oppressive Egypt are closed to him but one: robbing a bank.

Things go wrong: In their blow against their crumbling society, Shihab and his friend Mustafa happen on evidence of vice that points to the upper reaches of the regime.On a wild chase through Cairo’s metro system, Shihab and Mustafa turn to family and friends for refuge, which is offered only by Dina, a muckraking journalist who, for Shihab, will take the greatest of risks.

#YMERC Arabic Song of the Month

One of my favorite Arabic songs is Joseph Attieh’s Al Oula. A beautiful love story, speaking of souls and soulmates, it’s a ballad to all those who have loved or can love.

Jospeh Attieh is a Lebanese singer who is known for his song “Lebnan rah Yerjaa/El Haq Ma Beymout” or, “Lebanon will return/ The truth doesn’t die” which is played during Lebanese demonstrations.

Don’t forget to spread the word on WordPress, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #YMERC2020.

*The beautiful blog graphic is done by liv_does.

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