|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
14 - 20 December 2000
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At a glance
Magazines and Periodicals
Sotour, monthly magazine, December 2000, Cairo: Sotour
Under the title "Against Surrender," the main part of the November issue of Sotour was dedicated to the Palestinian Intifada, making it one of the first cultural publications to react to the eruption of conflict in the Middle East. This month the magazine picks up the Palestinian thread where it had left off. Under the title "Triangle of Errors," an impressive array of writers make a wide range of contributions to the debate, highlights include novelist Bahaa Taher on the part of the victim hitherto played by the Arab world in the game of Middle East politics, extensive commentaries on issues such as normalisation and the Palestinian refugees, as well as a whole section devoted to the "forgotten refugees" of 1948.
Al-Osour Al-Jadida, monthly magazine, November 2000, Cairo: Sinai Publishing House
The bulk of the October issue of this magazine comprised articles and translations revolving around the theme of America's role in the world, and including an array of topics from globalisation and the intellectuals of the Third World to the impact of American foreign policy on the Arab world and the destruction of Iraq. This month Palestine has made an appearance, with articles by Alaa El-Laami, Ahmed Ezzeddin, Mohamed El-Ass'ad and Wael Ghali on a broad range of topics from "self-flagellation as an apprehension of danger" to "the era of the Palestinian massacres." Aside from the usual short stories, poems and translations, the issue also includes an interesting study of Foucault's writings on sexuality and madness.
Alam Al-Fikr, quarterly, July-September 2000, Kuwait: National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature
The latest issue of this Kuwaiti quarterly comprises a series of academic papers by a well-established group of scholars dealing with a range of issues within the framework of society, liberty and the hegemony of "retrograde traditions" in the Arab world. Also included are educational and psychological studies that illuminate several aspects of contemporary Arab life (one example being the multifarious connection between gender, education and society), as well as a collection of miscellaneous literary and cultural articles. Here Youssef El-Sharouni writes on utopia in Arabic science fiction, and Abdel-Rahman Bin Zeidan writes on tricks and sarcasm in Moroccan theatre.
Adab wa Naqd, monthly literary magazine, November 2000, Cairo: Tagammu Party Publications
In a characteristic display of prowess, the October and November issues of this monthly offer a large number of short stories, poems, academic papers and articles while failing to come up with any unifying strand that might connect them with each other. The November issue -- perhaps in response to the recent resurgence of militant energy in the Middle East -- opens with a biographical article on Che Guevara. Otherwise the magazine confines itself to the literary and critical arenas: Farida El-Naqqash on Sonallah Ibrahim's latest novel and Fatma Fawzi on Nora Amin's novel, Qamis Wardi Farigh. Perhaps the issue's highlight is Ahmed Saleh El-Shafie's selection of African-American poetry.
Al-Masalla, August-September 2000, London, Beirut and Oman: General Union of Iraqi Writers and Journalists
This London-based Iraqi monthly, published by expatriate Iraqi dissidents, concluded its first year of publication with a double issue including a variety of pieces in memory of the recently deceased Iraqi poets Al-Jawahiri, Al-Bayyati and Rushdi Al-Amil, including previously unpublished poems by the latter. A host of less-celebrated Iraqi writers paint a grim literary picture of the current state of their country, while an entire section of the magazine is devoted to Kurdish poetry. This includes academic papers, reviews and texts in translation.
Al-Hilal, monthly magazine, December 2000, Cairo: Al-Hilal Publishing House
One section of the most recent issue of this prestigious magazine was devoted to issues of translation, with contributions by Mohamed Ragab El-Bayyoumi, Hussein Ahmed Amin, Maher Shafiq Farid and Emad Abu-Ghazi on topics including translation and the Qur'an, the selection process informing the choice of translation and the Supreme Council for Culture's National Project for Translation. The magazine's Arts section includes reviews of exhibitions by Helmi El-Touni and Adli Rizqalla, as well as an account of the recent Hanager Company production, Al-Hariq. Perhaps the issue's most absorbing articles are those by Al-Hilal's regular columnists, Abdel-Azim Anis, Safinaz Kazim and Galal Amin, though a further highlight is the late Al-Hilal columnist Magdi Nasif's last article, written in London a few days before he died.
Didd Al-Ta'asub (Against Fanaticism), Gaber Asfour, Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organisation (Family Library Series), 2000. pp464
In his introduction to this collection of articles, the well-known critic Gaber Asfour points out that he wrote them in order to "confront the fanaticism made rife by the many and various factions of extremist religious groups," and as a statement "against the process of shutting off that runs parallel to their activities in people's minds." He tells the reader that "Finally, the book is a warning against the dangers consequent upon the suppression of creativity and thought." Al-Tayyar Al-Dini, as the professor puts it, is out to destroy dreams of progress. Along the route to development, he explains, "it causes the whole of society to lag behind, lingering in the swamps of backwardness." Here, then, is a "statement of the issue" as understood by Gaber Asfour in recent years, a statement that includes such celebrated cases as those of Nasr Hamid Abu Zeid, Hassan Hanafi, Alia Shu'eib, Layla Al-Othman and, finally, Haydar Haydar (author of the controversial novel, A Banquet for Seaweed), all of whom are protagonists in Asfour's latter-day Greek tragedy of extremism vs liberal thought.
William Solaiman Qulada: Madrasat Al-Wataniya Al-Misriya (subtitled "A School of Egyptian Patriotism"), Cairo: The Friends of William Solaiman Qulada, 2000. pp120
This in-memoriam enterprise, undertaken on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of William Solaiman Qulada (1924-1999), comprises what amount to intellectual hymns of praise to this icon of Egyptian patriotism. A successful judge and spokesman for Christianity in Egypt, Qulada wrote a series of books on national and human-rights issues, including The Egyptian Church Confronts Colonialism (1968) and The Principle of Citizenship (1999). The book boasts papers on Qulada by historians and scholars such as Tareq El-Bishri, Anwar Abdel-Malek and Selim El-Awwa, and many farewells written by Qulada's friends, disciples and associates.
Infigar Al-Agz [The Budget Deficit Explosion], Ramzi Zaki, Damascus: Al-Mada Publishing House, 2000. pp201
Budget-deficit financing has become an economic concern in developing and developed countries alike. And in this book the well-known economist Ramzi Zaki offers an analysis of the reasons for it, as well as of its immediate consequences and long-term risks. In the light of the increasing tendency to ignore issues of social justice and of state intervention in the market, Zaki explains, budget-deficit financing has been a particularly worrying concern. This is largely because both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have championed the same prescription to "cure" budget deficits, namely reduced public spending and welfare and increases in taxation that do not take poverty into account.
Al-Suhyuniya Taltahim Al-Arab (Zionism Devours the Arabs), Mohamed Dweidar, Cairo: Sotour Special Publications, 2000. pp135
In this historical analysis of Political Judaism, the author charts the development of Zionism over more than 100 years and within the global framework of growing capitalist ideology. This is why the author discusses Europe's stance on the Jewish question, and why he says that global capital adopted the Zionist enterprise at its inception and backed it fully thereafter. The author illuminates the connection between colonialist and Zionist capital, armed security and the Jewish State both before and after 1948. He goes on to establish that the present state of affairs is but the logical conclusion of that connection, and he ominously explains why there is no cause for optimism regarding its future development.
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