Rasha Abbas: The Seven of Cups by The British Library


Syrian journalist and author Rasha Abbas has undertaken a month-long creative residency commissioned by Shubbak and the British Library, where she focused on the period of the Arab Union, as part of the research for a planned historical novel. This short-lived union between Syria and Egypt from 1958 to 1961 had a major influence on the subsequent political scene in both countries as well as the wider region. She will focus on the political events of this apex of pan-Arab nationalism and the era of populist pan-Arabism that followed it and lasted into the seventies. What are the questions that historical phase raises about Arab nationalism then and now?

The culmination of her research will be presented in this event in a narrative framed by specific tarot cards. The highly delineated lens of each card – Free Will, Forced Fate, Justice, and so on – will provide an idiosyncratic approach to the historical material in question. Speaking about her choice of title, Rasha Abbas said that Seven of Cups ‘is a card that tends to arise when you are in a situation with lots of different potential ways out, exposed to multiple illusions and realities, and you have to choose wisely.’

Displaced Syrian author Rasha Abbas is currently based in Germany. A contributor to Syria Speaks (Saqi Books, 2014), her recent book Die Erfindung der deutschen Grammatik (The Invention of German Grammar) is about accidentally getting involved in the avant-garde art scene and learning German from hipsters.