Cultural Journeys into the Arab World

A Literary Anthology

Edited by Dalya Cohen-Mor
Introduction by Dalya Cohen-Mor

Subjects: Arab Literature, Arab Civilization, Literature, Middle East Studies, Fiction
Paperback : 9781438471143, 376 pages, September 2018
Hardcover : 9781438471150, 376 pages, September 2018

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Table of contents


Introduction: Understanding People in Context

1. Self and Identity
From My Life
Ahmad Amin (Egypt)

The ID Card
Layla al-Uthman (Kuwait)
From Why Keep Asking Me about My Identity?
Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt)

2. Rites of Passage
From An Egyptian Childhood
Taha Hussein (Egypt)
From Khul-Khaal: Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories
Nayra Atiya (Egypt)

My Wedding Night
Alifa Rifaat (Egypt)

3. Codes of Masculinity

Abd al-Aziz al-Maqalih (Yemen)

Sa‘id, the Searcher
Hijab Yahya Musa al-Hazimi (Saudi Arabia)

Those Two Heavy Wings of Manhood: On Moustaches
Hassan Daoud (Lebanon)

4. Honor versus Shame

The Beards
Zakaria Tamer (Syria)

Misfortune in the Alley
Ramziya Abbas al-Iryani (Yemen)

Abu Richard
Mu’nis al-Razzaz (Jordan)

5. Private versus Public

The Freak
Yusuf Idris (Egypt)
From The Sheltered Quarter: A Tale of a Boyhood in Mecca
Hamza Bogary (Saudi Arabia)

Tears for Sale
Samira Azzam (Palestine)

6. Sexual Mores

Let’s Play Doctor
Nura Amin (Egypt)

A Red Spot
Rabia Raihane (Morocco)

Caught Red-Handed
Yusuf Idris (Egypt)
From Who’s Afraid of Meryl Streep?
Rashid al-Daif (Lebanon)

7. Gender Relations

A Mistake in the Knitting
Ihsan Kamal (Egypt)

International Women’s Day
Salwa Bakr (Egypt)
From Breaking Knees
Zakaria Tamer (Syria)

She and the Dogs
Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya)

8. Marriage and Children
From My Life
Ahmad Amin (Egypt)
From The Seven Days of Man
Abdel-Hakim Kassem (Egypt)

The Spider’s Web
Ihsan Kamal (Egypt)

Heir Apparent
Ramziya Abbas al-Iryani (Yemen)

9. Family Dynamics

The Funfair
Hanan al-Shaykh (Lebanon)

The One-Eyed Woman
Hanan al-Shaykh (Lebanon)

The Newcomer
Daisy al-Amir (Iraq)
From The First Well: A Bethlehem Boyhood
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (Palestine)
From A Refugee Childhood
Rafiq Abdul Rahman (Palestine)

10. Religion—Official versus Popular
From A Child from the Village
Sayyid Qutb (Egypt)
From The Saint’s Lamp
Yahya Haqqi (Egypt)

The Dome with the Crescent: A Trilogy
Mohamed al-Mahdi Bushra (Sudan)

An Old Picture
Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)

11. Fate and God’s Will versus Freedom of Choice

The Village Tale
Mahmud Tahir Lashin (Egypt)

Bread, Hashish and Moon
Nizar Qabbani (Syria)

Life’s Will
Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi (Tunisia)

12. Forms of Violence

Washing Off Disgrace
Nazik al-Mala’ika (Iraq)

Blood Feud
Habib Jamati (Lebanon)

The Martyr
Ibrahim Tuqan (Palestine)

Bus #99
Yasir Abdel Baqi (Yemen)

13. The Ruler and the Ruled

The Chair Carrier
Yusuf Idris (Egypt)

On the Tenth Day
Zakaria Tamer (Syria)
From What Value Has the People Whose Tongue Is Tied?
Nizar Qabbani (Syria)

The Moment the Barrier of Fear Broke Down
Adel Abdel Ghafar (Egypt)

14. The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yusuf Idris (Egypt)

Identity Card
Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine)
From The Last Chapter
Leila Abouzeid (Morocco)

Abdallah Salih al-Uthaymin (Saudi Arabia)

15. Perceptions of the West
From My Life
Ahmad Amin (Egypt)

Sardines and Oranges
Muhammad Zafzaf (Morocco)
From The Funeral of New York
Adonis (Syria)
From The Crane
Halim Barakat (Syria)

Dunya Mikhail (Iraq)

About the Authors
Permissions and Acknowledgments

A diverse collection of fiction and nonfiction literature from across the Arabic-speaking world.


Cultural Journeys into the Arab World provides a fascinating window into Arab culture and society through the voices of its own writers and poets. Organized thematically, the anthology features more than fifty texts, including poems, essays, stories, novels, memoirs, eyewitness accounts, and life histories, by leading male and female authors from across the Arabic-speaking world. Each theme is explored in several genres, both fiction and nonfiction, and framed by a wealth of contextual information that places the literary texts within the historical, political, cultural, and social background of the region. Spanning a century of Arab creative writing—from the "dean of Arabic letters" Taha Hussein to the Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz and the celebrated poet Adonis—the anthology offers unforgettable journeys into the rich and dynamic realm of Arab culture. Representing a wide range of settings, viewpoints, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the characters speak of their conditions, aspirations, struggles, and achievements living in complex societies marked by tensions arising from the persistence of older traditions and the impact of modernity. Their myriad voices paint a vivid and intimate portrait of contemporary Arab life in the Middle East, revealing the common humanity of a region of vital significance in world affairs.

Dalya Cohen-Mor is a Middle East scholar and an award-winning author. Her books include A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature; Mothers and Daughters in Arab Women's Literature: The Family Frontier; Fathers and Sons in the Arab Middle East; and Arab Women Writers: An Anthology of Short Stories, also published by SUNY Press.