For those of you in the Los Angeles area, here’s a reading you won’t want to miss: Abdellatif Laabi will be at Dawson’s this afternoon at 4 pm. The event is part of a series curated by my friend Andrew. Here’s the event description:
Poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist Abdellatif Laabi is one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed of contemporary North African writers. He was born in 1942 in Fes (Morocco). In 1966 he founded the magazine Souffles which would play an important role in the renewal of Moroccan cultural life. He created the publishing house Atlantes and also the Association de Recherche Culturelle – the activities of which did not please the Moroccan government of the time. Abdellatif Laabi was arrested and spent eight years in jail from 1972 to 1980. He settled in France in 1985. He has published Le Soleil se Meurt in 1992, L’Etreinte du Monde in 1993 and Le Spleen de Casablanca in 1996. His novel, Rue du Retour, has been translated into English and published by Readers International. In 1999 he was awarded the Fonlon Nichols Prize by the African Literature Association and the Wallonie-Bruxelles poetry prize. The World’s Embrace: The Selected Poems of Abdellatif Laabi (City Lights Books, 2003) consists of poems selected by Laabi from three books published in French over the past ten years. A novel, Le Fond de la Jarre, was published by Gallimard in 2002. The World’s Embrace from City Lights, is his latest book in English. For more on Laabi, see his Swarthmore entry. Some of his poetry (in French) is available here.
Doors open at 4. Readings at 4:30. Dawson’s Book Shop is located at 535 N. Larchmont Blvd between Beverly Blvd and Melrose Blvd in the Larchmont district south of Hollywood, CA. Bookstore Tel: 323-469-2186
Terry Gross interviews Diana Abu-Jaber on NPR. Abu-Jaber’s new novel, Crescent, came out a few weeks ago. It’s amusing (or sad, depending on your outlook) how little time is devoted to the novel and how much to all things Mid-Eastern, including the political.
Thanks to Neils for the tip.
It’s been a little over a week since the toppling of the bronze statue of Saddam. In my post on the subject, I was more concerned about the aftermath than about the photo-op. The whole thing had seemed too neat to me, but I wasn’t sarcastic in the least.
Well, it’s been long enough.
By now, I bet most readers have already seen the aerial shot that shows the square surrounded by tanks, and a few dozen Iraqis on hand for the toppling. Most of you know that the square was conveniently located across from the Palestine Hotel, where journalists are staying; that an American flag was wrapped around the statue’s head, but due to heckling by the crowd, it was replaced by an Iraqi flag, which was also taken off before the statue was brought down. An interesting fact has also surfaced: the American flag that was wrapped around the statue’s head was the same flag that flew over the Pentagon on September 11.
The Administration’s response? Oh, it was all just a big coincidence.
The Observer‘s Sara Nelson tries to figure out why publishers won’t reveal their numbers:
“Nobody talks about publishing numbers because they are so unbelievably low. How many authors really make a living wage from their advances? How many books actually earn out, or pay their authors anything beyond the initial advance? And how many copies sold turn any particular book into a best-seller? Those are the questions all people interested in publishing think they want to know and their answers are the ones publishing executives go out of their way not to reveal. A book can be on the best-seller lists for a couple of weeks and have sold 30,000 copies. Within publishing, that’s a reasonably good showing, but compared to, say, the music or movie or magazine business, where sales are measured in millions, it seems like nothing. When told, for example, that last year’s hit novel, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, sold about 100,000 copies in hardcover, one editor of a huge-circulation monthly gasped and said, “If I only sold 100,000 magazines, I’d get fired.” The fact that very few people in this country read books is publishing’s dirty little secret, and it’s one executives are, understandably, desperate to keep.”
Another link from Moby.
Further evidence that anyone can pass himself off as an “expert” on Al-Qaida (or anything Mid-Eastern, for that matter): French journalist Mohammed Sifaoui wrote a book on the terrorist organization that is now a bestseller in France, but fellow journalist Atmane Tazaghart has a bunch of questions for him.
Thanks to MobyLives for the link.
It’s French, I know, but I can’t think of another expression to convey my dismay at Rev. Franklin Graham. This is a man who in 2001 went on the record as saying that Islam is “wicked, violent, and not of the same god,” and who has refused to retract those comments–I think his words were “stands by his statement” as though he were a journalist and as though we were talking about quantifiable facts.
Now Graham actually has the nerve to go to Jordan with his charity, Samaritan’s Purse, waiting for Iraq to be safe enough so he can enter it to provide relief. And a little evangelical help to the heathens. Does he honestly think that Iraqis will want to hear from a man who has insulted their religion?
To top it off, the Pentagon, never one to shy away from indelicate moves, invites the man to give an address for Good Friday, much to the dismay of the Pentagon’s Muslim employees.
The National Library in Baghdad has been looted, and priceless manuscripts have been burned or lost–this despite the lesson we should have learned from the looting of the Antiquities Museum. Robert Fisk provides a first-hand account of what it was like.
I was reminded of my junior high history teacher, in her tight bun and sensible shoes, telling us how the Mongols swept Baghdad and threw its libraries’ books in the Tigris, making the river’s waters black with ink for a month. Except this time, the invaders weren’t the looters. And yet, it doesn’t mean we’re not responsible.