Certain anthologies especially those which seek the "best" writing of a time, place, genre or generation invite debate about the hubris involved in the task and about the criteria which determines a writer's inclusion or exclusion. Beirut 39
does not claim such ambitions, nor is it meant to represent contemporary Arabic literature. To quote its editor, Samuel Shimon, the book is "
only a first step to discovering the extraordinary talents" of the men and women whose short stories, novel excerpts, and poems appear in translation from Arabic and French, and in one case, in its original English.
This remarkably humble approach may seem prescient in retrospect as other reviewers have remarked on the anthology's unevenness, and several entries bear mixed results. One of these is "The Path to Madness", which features a trio...
Beyond the Book
This anthology is a joint venture between the Hay Festival and the Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009.
derives its title from 'Beirut39', a group of thirty-nine writers of Arab heritage who were all born in or after 1970. The countries of origin represented in the anthology include Palestine, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Oman, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt, among others.
These writers met for workshops, readings, and discussions as part of the Hay Festival, a week-long literary event held in early summer in Haye-on-Wye, a town in the west of England widely...