Writing Against the Grain by The British Library


What do we mean by Arabic writing against the grain in 2017? What are the inspirations, and the challenges, for the engaged Arab writer today? How do the wider global context, regional events, national regimes, personal stories, and the myriad of other artistic influences shape their work? And what does it mean to be a literary activist? Syrian British writer Robin Yassin-Kassab hosts a lively conversation exploring all this and more with three very different writers from across the region.

Novelist, poet and playwright Ali Badr was born in Baghdad. The recipient of several awards for his novels, his work has been translated into English (notably The Tobacco Keeper and Papa Sartre). Currently editor-in-chief of Marseille-based Arabic press Alca Books, Ali Badr has extensive experience of contemporary Arabic literary publishing.

Mona Kareem is a poet-writer-translator based in New York. She is the author of three poetry collections, some of which have been translated into French, English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Farsi, Italian and Kurdish. Her published translations include Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within and an Arabic selection of Alejandra Pizarnik’s poems.

Ghazi Gheblawi was born in Tripoli, Libya, where he studied medicine and published his first works of fiction. He is the author of two collections of short stories in Arabic and published various literary works in English in several publications in the UK. He runs and hosts Imtidad Cultural Blog and Podcast, which focuses on literature and arts in Britain and the Arab world. He was recently appointed a trustee of The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature and was on the judging panel for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing. He is currently an editor at Darf Publishers, an independent publishing house based in London.