The tree & other stories by Abdallah al-Nasser

Source – library

Translator – Dina Bosio and Christopher Tingley

Abdallah is one of the most well Known Saudi writers outside Saudi Arabi ,born in the fifties he studied Arabic literature in his native Saudi ,he then lived in the us ,and has been an editor of a number of magazines around the world involving Arabic culture .He currently lives in london and is editor of the quarterly magazine Al Thaqafiyah .

The tree is a collection of short stories ,mainly based in Saudi ,but others are based in Scotland and US ,now these stories do what great Arabic short fiction does and that is show life ,like a fly caught in amber catching a unique moment or series of events perfectly .The main story the tree is a clever story about old and new clashing and what happens when people stick to closely to tradition.A new hospital was due to be built but an old village tree was in the way ,so it was built elsewhere.

A year later , the people were passing by the tree on their way to the hospital .One thing had certainly got bigger – the graveyard to the west of the tree .In time the tree was standing in the middle of the graveyard .

the closing lines of the title story the tree .

Abdallah has a great wit ,and a natural talent for satire.It also captures the clash of cultures in Saudi the old and new and how they sit and sometimes smash into one another . elsewhere we see a man discovering the in workings of a factory ,people’s disappointments at what there doing and what they could do .There is a story set in Loch Ness about a couple of people who meet one dark night in that spooky place .The book itself is short at only a hundred and twenty pages .There are over twenty stories so it is a book that can easily be read in an evening like I did .Like other short stories from Arabic world  I ve read in the last year or so ,these stick with you and make you think of a different world to my own .

Do you like short stories from Arabic ?

Have you a favourite Arabic writer ?


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. savidgereads
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 13:15:43

    Seriously Stu the breadth of countries you read from quite puts me to shame. I don’t know that I have read that many arabic authors which is most wring of me… can you suggest some please?


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 11:12:55

      aswany a good intro I m not huge fan of yacobian but it is well written ,or Yalo Elias Khoury dark and wonderful insight into arabic world ,all the best stu


  2. Gavin
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 18:55:32

    I’ve started creating a list of Arabic authors from your posts, Stu. I’m going to set myself a personal challenge to read one a month for the rest of the year.


  3. Kinna
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 21:20:44

    Alas, I have not read any Saudi authors. In fact, I don’t read much Arabic literature, which of course is a shame. Maybe Gavin can share the list with us?


  4. pburt
    Mar 13, 2011 @ 22:46:04

    This one will go on the to read list. I too would love to see Gavin’s list.


  5. Trackback: Sunday Caught My Interest « Reflections from the Hinterland
  6. Eva
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 03:30:47

    I’m putting this on my wishlist! As for favourite Arabic authors, I’m a fan of Naguib Mahfouz. And The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine was one of the best books I’ve ever read! I loved The Arabian Nights in the Hussein Hadawy translation. And I’m trying to come up with a woman author, but the couple that I’ve read I haven’t really connected with. Sounds like it’s time for me to read some more!


  7. Frank
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:36:51

    Arabic writers (writing in Arabic and French) have been icreasingly visible in English. Last year, the Hay festival organised Beirut 39: New Writing from the Arab World (a selection of 39 pieces by Arab writers under 40 was published by Bloomsbury, translated from Arabic, French, Dutch). Bizarrely I find I’ve translated three Algerian writers in the past couple of years, most recently Boualem Sansal’s An Unfinished Business. A wonderful woman writer to start out with might be Yasmine Ghata, whose elegant little book The Calligraphers’ Night was published by Hesperus


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 11:05:24

      It has frank ,I think lot to do with Arabic world having a young genration wanting to break out and writing is one of the ways to break out I enjoyed the selection in beirut 39 ,all the best stu


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