Tuesday, July 11, 2006  

Coming attractions!

(otherwise known as utterly shamless plugging on my part)

Women as Scapegoats, Lebanon through the Photography of Doris Bittar, Hoda Barakat's 'Disciples of Passion,' Golden Age of Arab Science, and Much More in forthcoming Al Jadid no. 53

Women as Scapegoats, by Ghada Samman. Ghada Samman offers a smart and well-crafted critique of a fellow Arab intellectual who published a scathing newspaper article, in which he unleashes his anger toward Westernized Arabs and on one Arab woman he met at a party. Samman does not rashly jump to this unknown woman’s defense, but she questions if her fellow Arab intellectual is any different, other than in gender, than the woman he critiques. Samman suggests that all Arab intellectuals – she includes herself in this argument, too – focus too much on women and their “bedazzlement” by all things Western, while ignoring the influence of the West on both men and women and the real underlying problem affecting both genders: the loss of identity through the importation of culture.

To See and to See Again: Doris Bittar Looks at Lebanon Through Another Eye, by Rebecca Romani. Rebecca Romani talks with Lebanese-American artist Doris Bittar about photography as a new form of creative expression for Bittar, particularly during her travels in Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Bittar has made a name for herself through her paintings, and only recently introduced this new medium, photography, to her artwork. The conversation between Romani and Bittar shows the artist’s love of photography, and how this love led to an emotional journey within her birth country, Lebanon, and ultimately led to an awareness of self and a deep connection with the Lebanese people and society.

Translated Novel Mirrors/ Refracts War in Lebanon, by Pauline Homsi Vinson.

A review of “Disciples of Passion,” by Hoda Barakat. Distinguished Arab author Hoda Barakat is now able to spread her influence even further with Marilyn Booth’s masterful translation into English of Barakat’s novel “Disciples of Passion.” Pauline Homsi Vinson offers insight into this novel and its gripping account of the splintering of the mind as well as society during the war in Lebanon. Barakat skillfully pulls her readers into the psychological nightmare that occurs when one faces the atrocities of war, which in turn infect and dictate the behavior of both the individual and society. Vinson also applauds Barakat’s ability to blur gender lines through her use of a “male narrative voice” and through characters whose actions defy clear-cut male and female roles.

Bandar Abdel Hamid on Poetry, Cinema, and a Small Room, Door Ajar, by Rebecca Joubin. Renowned Syrian poet and film critic Bandar Abdel Hamid discusses with Rebecca Joubin the influences of his childhood on his creative works and on his generous hospitality. Many writers and wayward travelers have sought refuge in Abdel Hamid’s small office in Damascus, and there they have discovered not only a warm welcome but also a safe space to debate one another openly. Joubin also talks briefly with Abdel Hamid about the challenges facing modern Arab poetry and the connection he sees between his poetry and his work with film.

Nahda Salah Balaa: Opening Doors for Arab Art, by Fayeq Oweis. Fayeq Oweis offers insight into another Arab-American artist’s personal and professional life in an article that explores the challenges, triumphs, and changes that have faced Lebanese-American artist Nahda Salah Balaa. Balaa, who is originally from Lebanon and currently resides in California, has impressed many with her bold use of vibrant colors, her watercolors of lively landscapes and detailed Arabesque doors, her elegant silks, and her humor and grace in the face of her battle with cancer.

America ‘Discovers’ Morocco, by Rebecca Romani. A review of “Morocco Bound: Disorienting America’s Maghreb from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express,” by Brian T. Edwards. As Rebecca Romani points out in her review, Brian T. Edwards offers not a tour book of Morocco in which Americans can lose themselves in nostalgia, but rather a critique and questioning of the very nostalgia and impressions Americans have towards Morocco. Edwards shows his audience the thick, distorted lens through which Americans have viewed and still view Morocco, stating that for them, Morocco has only ever been a reflection of American fears and ideologies.

Speaking in Tongues: Film Examines Languages in Israel, by Brigitte Caland.
Spoken language is one medium through which we communicate with one another, but how do we choose which language best expresses our thoughts, ideas, emotions and dreams? Brigitte Caland examines Nurith Aviv’s thought-provoking film on languages found among people living in Israel and finds that it provides an accurate portrayal of the rich diversity found there. Aviv shows how each person in her film, from a Russian-born Jewish actress, to a Moroccan-born Jewish singer, to two Palestinians she interviews, has a different relationship with his or her mother tongue, languages learned throughout his or her life, and the one language that all have in common: Hebrew.

I am thrilled to be writing for Al Jadid, and am really looking forward to Brigitte Caland's piece on Israeli film.

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