I had a full day on Friday–three panels, plus a couple of interviews. It all started with a lunchtime reading with Morten Ramsland, Peter Weber, and Bernard Comment at Deutsches Haus. The event was scheduled to be held in the courtyard, but it was a little rainy so we stayed inside. I met with several readers afterward, including an Israeli woman of Moroccan origin, a young writer who had traveled from Philadelphia for the event, and an elderly women with carefully wrapped copies of both my books.
I had to take a mad dash to my next panel, which was moderated by Jane Ciabattari and which provided critical perspectives on several writers in the festival: Eric Banks on Peter Weber, Rigoberto Gonzalez on Álvaro Enrique, the translator Alissa Valles on Bernardo Atxaga, and me on Nawal al-Saadawi. As I was getting ready to sit down on stage, I discovered that none other than Ms. al-Saadawi herself was sitting in the front row, right across from me. I got a little bit flustered as I started speaking, but overall I think I got all of my points across. Here is a Flickr photo set from the event and a brief wrap up of the panel from Words Without Borders.
Then we (Alex had flown in from Los Angeles for the weekend) went to get some lunch while we waited for the next panel–a celebration of Tayeb Salih and the marvelous Season of Migration to the North. We started with a reading in Arabic by Elias Khoury of the first scene from the novel, which I then read in English. Then Raja Shehadeh, Bruce Robbins, Elias Khoury and I each spoke about what the book meant to us. I was delighted to discover that Mariam Said was in the audience (the late Edward Said wrote so approvingly of this book; I believe her presence was in his memory).
Photo: Jane Ciabattari, Nawal el-Saadawi, and me. (Photo credit.)