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Translating Libya: Chasing the Libyan Short Story, from Mizda to Benghazi

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Part anthology, part eyewitness-history, Translating Libya presents the country through the eyes of sixteen short story writers and one American diplomat. “An excellent collection of stories as well as an insightful glimpse into what was recently an unknown culture.” --Deborah Hicks, Library Journal Review Translating Libya, published in 2008, was one of the first boo Part anthology, part eyewitness-history, Translating Libya presents the country through the eyes of sixteen short story writers and one American diplomat. “An excellent collection of stories as well as an insightful glimpse into what was recently an unknown culture.” --Deborah Hicks, Library Journal Review Translating Libya, published in 2008, was one of the first books to introduce Libyan literature to an English-speaking audience. The updated 2014 revision includes a foreword by Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih, one of Libya’s most recognized authors, and a new introduction by the author, in light of the Libyan Revolution and its aftermath, which he witnessed firsthand. Intrigued by the apparent absence of ‘place’ in modern Libyan short fiction, Ethan Chorin, one of the first U.S. diplomats posted to Libya, resolved in 2004 to track down and translate stories that specifically mentioned cities and landmarks in Libya -- and then to visit those places, and describe what he encountered there. The result is a mixture of travelogue and memoir that sheds light on the social factors that fed the 2011 Revolution, and its aftermath. The collection includes pieces from the ‘sixties generation’ of writers, as well as a newer generation of Libyan writers, including several women, writing in a variety of styles, “twisted” 1001 nights, to allegory, fictionalized memoir and overt satire. Chorin explains how the stories, under cover of anonymity, distorted place-names and double-meanings reveal the depth of anger and despair that precipitated and fed the Arab Spring—and serve as a reminder to those who fought heroically for their freedom, that true courage springs from isolating, not repeating the mistakes of the past. “A delightful mixture of travelogue, scholarly study and a record of personal encounters…Through the stories and his accompanying jottings and commentaries, Chorin throws much light on different facets of Libya, past and present.” --Susannah Tarboush, Qantara


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Part anthology, part eyewitness-history, Translating Libya presents the country through the eyes of sixteen short story writers and one American diplomat. “An excellent collection of stories as well as an insightful glimpse into what was recently an unknown culture.” --Deborah Hicks, Library Journal Review Translating Libya, published in 2008, was one of the first boo Part anthology, part eyewitness-history, Translating Libya presents the country through the eyes of sixteen short story writers and one American diplomat. “An excellent collection of stories as well as an insightful glimpse into what was recently an unknown culture.” --Deborah Hicks, Library Journal Review Translating Libya, published in 2008, was one of the first books to introduce Libyan literature to an English-speaking audience. The updated 2014 revision includes a foreword by Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih, one of Libya’s most recognized authors, and a new introduction by the author, in light of the Libyan Revolution and its aftermath, which he witnessed firsthand. Intrigued by the apparent absence of ‘place’ in modern Libyan short fiction, Ethan Chorin, one of the first U.S. diplomats posted to Libya, resolved in 2004 to track down and translate stories that specifically mentioned cities and landmarks in Libya -- and then to visit those places, and describe what he encountered there. The result is a mixture of travelogue and memoir that sheds light on the social factors that fed the 2011 Revolution, and its aftermath. The collection includes pieces from the ‘sixties generation’ of writers, as well as a newer generation of Libyan writers, including several women, writing in a variety of styles, “twisted” 1001 nights, to allegory, fictionalized memoir and overt satire. Chorin explains how the stories, under cover of anonymity, distorted place-names and double-meanings reveal the depth of anger and despair that precipitated and fed the Arab Spring—and serve as a reminder to those who fought heroically for their freedom, that true courage springs from isolating, not repeating the mistakes of the past. “A delightful mixture of travelogue, scholarly study and a record of personal encounters…Through the stories and his accompanying jottings and commentaries, Chorin throws much light on different facets of Libya, past and present.” --Susannah Tarboush, Qantara

44 review for Translating Libya: Chasing the Libyan Short Story, from Mizda to Benghazi

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nada Elfeituri

    A fantastic primer for those getting into Libyan literature. What makes Chorin's book so fascinating is that it is interspersed with his own perspective of working in Libya as a diplomate, his search for these short stories in the old bookshops of different cities. A fantastic primer for those getting into Libyan literature. What makes Chorin's book so fascinating is that it is interspersed with his own perspective of working in Libya as a diplomate, his search for these short stories in the old bookshops of different cities.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom Dawn

    A slim volume containing an unusual collection of stories translated into English, dating back to the brief period when the West resumed diplomatic relations with the Ghadaffi regime and before the civil war. Very enjoyable. Unfortunately out of print, but still available second hand.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate Throp

    An interesting anthology of Libyan short stories interspersed with commentary, history and travelogue by the compiler and translator. Favourites were the Locusts and Door to Door.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    For the most part, wonderful stories. There were a couple that I just didn't care for. The collection of stories were chosen by the editor/translator for their connection to place in Libya and each place has an introduction and description by the editor. So it reads both like a travelogue and a book of short stories. Libya is a country I know absolutely nothing about but this book painted a picture of an interesting place, not a tourist destination, but a place that would be interesting to explo For the most part, wonderful stories. There were a couple that I just didn't care for. The collection of stories were chosen by the editor/translator for their connection to place in Libya and each place has an introduction and description by the editor. So it reads both like a travelogue and a book of short stories. Libya is a country I know absolutely nothing about but this book painted a picture of an interesting place, not a tourist destination, but a place that would be interesting to explore. My favorite stories were The Spontaneous Journey (Al-Rihla Al-Awfwiya) / Rajwa Ben Shetwan and The Mute / Abdullah Ali Al-Gazal, translated by Ethan Chorin. Both have women as the narrators, 'though the second author (and also the translator) are men, and were so subtly written in the female voice. I was surprised that The Mute was written by a man. I thought it was quite erotic but so understated that it would be hard to actually call it that. Maybe it just spoke to me in that way. The story that I didn't care for was Caesar's Return ('Awdat Caesar) / Meftah Genaw which is about a statue of Caesar that jumps down from it's pedestal and wanders the streets, joins with the statue of the Girl with the Gazelle and leaves the city on the next boat out. This is a wonderful little book and I recommend it to anyone, but especially to those wanting to know something about a country little known to the West, for those wanting to visit it through the stories of Libyan writers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    this book was a great glimpse into the writings of contemporary and past libyans from differing parts of the country. there were several themes that repeated throughout the book, such as minority status, religion and sex. i found the stories enjoyable since they were all bittersweet. some would label them somewhat depressing, but i beg to differ. the stories were filled with a good dose of interpersonal realities. a great read . . . but then again, i'm a north african studies junkie. for those o this book was a great glimpse into the writings of contemporary and past libyans from differing parts of the country. there were several themes that repeated throughout the book, such as minority status, religion and sex. i found the stories enjoyable since they were all bittersweet. some would label them somewhat depressing, but i beg to differ. the stories were filled with a good dose of interpersonal realities. a great read . . . but then again, i'm a north african studies junkie. for those of you like me who are obsessed with libya: read it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Safia Aoude

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ella

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lidija

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nela

  14. 4 out of 5

    Farah

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nahla Elsubeihi

  16. 4 out of 5

    Esther

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cyanni Whitfield

  18. 5 out of 5

    Velvet Z

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bruno Morales

  21. 4 out of 5

    Вікторія Слінявчук

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam Tiffen

  24. 4 out of 5

    Esther Kofod

  25. 4 out of 5

    ِِabdalla Gazal

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marwan Asmar

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tasbeeh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heba

  31. 4 out of 5

    Y

  32. 4 out of 5

    melissa

  33. 5 out of 5

    Milood Ashur

  34. 5 out of 5

    Tony Vrnjas

  35. 5 out of 5

    Amal

  36. 5 out of 5

    Radia

  37. 5 out of 5

    Abdulrazig Almansori

  38. 4 out of 5

    مرعى ارجيعة

  39. 5 out of 5

    Zahra

  40. 5 out of 5

    Alizaheer Ali

  41. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

  42. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

  43. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed Nwegi

  44. 4 out of 5

    Laure Venier

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