Mahfouz's Metamorphoses: Bringing the Egyptian World to the English language
Date: March 12, 2009 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm EDT
Location: Deutsches Haus at Columbia University - 420 West 116th Street
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Community Affairs by sending email to .
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March 7, 2009
12pm / FREE
Mahfouz's Metamorphoses: Bringing the Egyptian World to the English language
Deutsches Haus at Columbia University - 420 West 116th Street
A conversation among translators from Arabic to English and from English to Arabic, and Egyptian writers working in both Arabic and English, about their journeys and adventures between these two global languages.

Moderated by Robyn Creswell who has written about literature and poetry for Harper’s, The Nation, Raritan, the Yale Review, and Arab Studies Journal.


Miral El-Tahawy , a novelist and literary critic whose work has been translated into six languages. Three of her novels have been published in English, The Tent, Blue Aubergine and, most recently, Gazelle Tracks (all translated by Anthony Calderbank). Her work often deals with Egyptian Bedouin life and the crisis of Bedouin women.

Sonallah Ibrahim, a novelist and short story writer and both one of the most experimental and best-selling novelists in the Arab world. His novels incorporate excerpts from newspapers, magazines, and screenplays and employ multiple narrators and points of view. His works, which have been translated to numerous languages, include That Smell, Zat, Sharaf, Warda, and Beirut, Beirut.

Iman Mersal, a poet and the author of four collections of poetry published in Arabic. Selected poems from her oeuvre have been translated into numerous languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Italian. These are Not Oranges, My Love, a selection of her poems translated into English by Khaled Mattawa, was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 2008. Mersal currently lives in Edmonton, Canada, where she is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Alberta.

Anna Swank, a writer and translator from Arabic to English who teaches Arabic at the Friends Seminary in New York. She is also the literary programs coordinator for Arte East, a New York based international nonprofit which supports and promotes artists from the Middle East and its diasporas.

Co-sponsored by the Office of Government and Community Affairs, as part of The Big Read: Egypt, and by the Center for Literary Translation and the Middle East Institute


Big Read Egypt/U.S. Community Calendar – March 2009

Big Read Egypt/U.S. events are FREE and open to the public.

Columbia University Libraries - Resources related to Arabic Literature and Naguib Mahfouz  


Copies of the Thief and the Dogs will be available at many Big Read events. The book is also available at local bookstores. Prior knowledge of the book is not required to attend events, although we strongly encourage all to pick up a copy of the book during the Big Read in the month of March.

Questions? Please email or call 212-854-5301.

The Big Read Egypt/U.S. is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest, designed to deepen cultural understanding and dialogue between Egyptians and Americans through the transformative power of literature. Columbia University in the City of New York is one of four U.S. organizations selected to lead this program.

Partners and Credits

The National Endowment for the Arts

The U.S. Department of State

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Arts Midwest

Columbia University - Office of Government and Community Affairs

Department of Middle East and South Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

Middle East Institute, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

The School of the Arts, Columbia University

The Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University

Deutsches Haus at Columbia University

The Amheida Project

The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture  


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