New Writing From The Arab World

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Episodes

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A Bedtime Story For Eid20151106

A series bringing attention to contemporary short fiction from the Arab World. In A Bedtime Story for Eid by the Syrian writer Zaher Omareen, a mother explains events of the recent past to her son.

The story comes from his forthcoming collection, Tales of the Orontes River, which draws on the collective memories of the 1982 Hama massacre when the father of the current President Assad ordered his army to obliterate an entire city.

The translator, Alice Guthrie writes, "Zaher Omareen's tale takes us on a journey back to 1980s Hama, zooming in on some of the individual victims of the massacres and disappearances committed by the regime there, as told by a mother to her son. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people perished at the hands of Hafez al-Assad's forces in a 27-day massacre in 1982: such was the climate of fear that it has only ever been referred to - if at all - as The Events.

"As this story is told in the imagined voice of a Syrian mother talking to her child, pre-2011, there is much that is not spelled out as it might be if it was directed at the foreign reader: the words 'massacre', 'arbitrary detention', or 'torture' don't appear here, but are signaled by euphemisms such as 'the Events', 'serving a sentence', or 'having medical needs'.

"There are several other references that readers unfamiliar with Syria may be confused by: Tadmor and the Palestine Branch are both prisons notorious for extreme torture; the 'Tadmor Events', as they're known in Syria, refers to a massacre of at least a thousand inmates inside the prison in 1980. And al-rush - taking its name from a firing mode on a Kalashnikov - is a vernacular term for a mass execution of residents marched out of their houses and shot as one in the street."

Written by Zaher Omareen

Translated by Alice Guthrie

Reader: Jumaan Short

Directed by Jill Waters

A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Farida's Eyes20151030

Farida's Eyes20151030

A series bringing attention to contemporary short fiction from the Arab World. In the first of three stories - Farida's Eyes by Sudanese author Leila Aboulela - a bright and eager student is struggling in class, but helping her is not a priority for her father.

Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of four novels, a collection of short stories and several radio plays. Her novels include The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year. Minaret and Lyrics Alley were both long listed for the Orange Prize. Leila's book of short stories, Coloured Lights, was short-listed for the MacMillan Silver PEN award. Her work has been translated into 14 languages. She grew up in Khartoum and now lives in Aberdeen. Farida's Eyes was originally commissioned by Banipal, the Arab literary magazine.

Reader: Amrita Acharia

Produced by Jill Waters

A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Farida's Eyes20151030

A series bringing attention to contemporary short fiction from the Arab World. In the first of three stories - Farida's Eyes by Sudanese author Leila Aboulela - a bright and eager student is struggling in class, but helping her is not a priority for her father.

Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of four novels, a collection of short stories and several radio plays. Her novels include The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year. Minaret and Lyrics Alley were both long listed for the Orange Prize. Leila's book of short stories, Coloured Lights, was short-listed for the MacMillan Silver PEN award. Her work has been translated into 14 languages. She grew up in Khartoum and now lives in Aberdeen. Farida's Eyes was originally commissioned by Banipal, the Arab literary magazine.

Reader: Amrita Acharia

Produced by Jill Waters

A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Playing With Bombs20151113

A series which focuses attention on contemporary short fiction from the Arab World.

In Playing with Bombs by the Kuwaiti born Mai Al-Nakib, a fifteen year old Palestinian finally gets a girlfriend - the girl next door. Sharing notes and longing looks through a gap in the wall which divides their gardens, they begin to explore each other and discover their hopes and plans for the future.

Mai Al-Nakib holds a PhD in English Literature from Brown University in the US and teaches Post-Colonial Studies and Comparative Literature at Kuwait University. The Hidden Light of Objects was her first collection of short stories and it won the Edinburgh International Book Festival's First Book Award in 2014.

Written by Mai Al-Nakib

Read by Amir El-Masry

Abridged and Directed by Jill Waters

A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.