Arabic Book Clubs & The Expansion Of Arab Literature In English

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Islamic and Arab literature have had a hard time breaking into the western world. London has been no stranger to it, however, celebrating the cultural literature from Arab countries in previous London Book Fairs. In the past few years a significant increase in Arab authors translated into English has been noticeable, as well as a greater amount of them being internationally awarded with mainstream prizes.

The rise of interest has led to a number of groups focusing on Arab literature. In fact, London’s ALEF Bookstores hold an Arabic Book Club every month where books are chosen as the month’s read and then discussed as a group. The Arab British Center is another cultural mecca for anything that has to do with Arabian culture. There, people work hard to improve the understanding of Arab culture worldwide. Amongst their many activities are literary workshops to highlight the best and upcoming Arab authors, linguistic courses (the deconstruction of it, for starters), and dance projects, too.

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Amongst famous Saudi authors who have been translated into English is Rajaa Al-Sanea, whose book Girls of Riyadh, tells the lives of four young female friends in the Middle Eastern country that explore not only the relationships between men and women in the contemporary Saudi culture, but the tension between the traditions that were brought by the elderly and the new freedom that younger generations are trying to find.