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November 2018

A self-driving train with a clumpy Slavic name; a wispy hotel in the Algerian desert; Beirut of the near-future, waltzing between dry and wet spells — these are only some of the distinctive locations of Sara Saab’s stories. If she were a painter, she would be a consummate landscapist. As a writer, though, she is a self-proclaimed pragmatist, exploring the sensory qualities of the worlds she puts to page. And while her characters burn and beam for attention, you get the feeling that they know that they are being up-staged by the backdrop, that their destinies emerge from their settings.

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The first workshop of Photosynthesis took place in Berlin at the Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte on August 22, 2018 through a collaboration with Masrah Ensemble. Masrah Ensemble is a nonprofit theatre company and organization that makes, develops, and fosters research and criticism of theatre with a focus on the Arab stage, challenging prevailing ideas of what theatre should be, where it should take place, and to whom it belongs. Onstage: 2 Gardeners 3 (or more, or fewer) audience participants 3 (or more, or fewer) chairs 3 (or more, or fewer) terra cotta pots or buckets or other receptacles filled with soil.

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لم نعلم أن الشبل ليس شبلاً بالفعل إلا عندما سُرِقَتْ دراجته الهوائية. لم يجرؤ عندها على القيام بأي شيء لاستردادها. كل ما فعله هو أنه أطلق بعض العيارات النارية في الهواء من شبَّاك غرفته، ثم استلقى على الفرشة الإسفنجية على الأرض، وراح يذرف الدمع من عينيه المفتوحتين على وسعهما، ساهماً في السقف، وشاعراً بحنين قوي إلى أمه. ومسدسه إلى جانبه. الدراجة كانت هديةً من أمه. لكننا لم نره يقودها إلا مرات قليلة. كان يعرضها في صندوق زجاجي مستطيل قريب من المدرسة التي في شارعنا. من أجل أن يراها الجميع. لكن أحداً لم يكن حتى ليفكر لحظة بإمعان النظر بها. فالشبل قد

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A cat sat on his bed like a small disheveled black Sphinx. As Ziad drew near it, it turned to face him. “No!” it shrieked. It jumped around his bedroom, and he chased after its violent “No’s.” When Ziad got close enough to pet it, a stroke of its fur set the cat alight, and it exploded. Ziad woke up. He wasn’t too startled. It wasn’t the first time he’d chased resistant detonating cats around in his dreams. He’d dreamt of that cat over three times that month. The first time around, he woke up panting, guilt tingling his throat. But

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by Georg Johannessen, translated from the Norwegian by Rana Issa This short story was written in 1968 by Georg Johannessen, the Norwegian professor of rhetoric, artist, and public intellectual. The story was published in the same year as Kassandra, a scandalous play in the revisionist tradition in vogue in early postmodernity, which takes Troy as the form from which to attack post-World War II Norwegian society; the play brought Johannessen great controversy. Like Kassandra, “Prince and Princess: A Satirical Porno Fable,” (Prins og Prinsesse: en satirsk pornoeventyr), foretells of the general state of false piety that plagued Norwegian society in the

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When you tell me that your father died last week, you wrap it in between a Merry Christmas, and apologies for the delay. It is a systematic calculation: four lines, sandwich-stacked and pressed. You are careful not to let it breathe too wide. I remember asking Death to come inside. The first time, he was careful not to wake the house, knocked his marble knuckles only on my window. All I wanted was to crawl back into bed — hazy like a toddler after napping on the sofa. The second time, he made a point of nail screeching, car alarm howling, racket-and-bang smashing every pot onto the cold white

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maybe I should kill my mother. to forget her thick hands her fat laughing fingers the stubborn ring that remains even after the letters had been burnt. to forget her voice in the morning as she makes coffee talks to the kitchen cupboard and the cat. to forget the sound of her footsteps as she gets up for a cigarette at 2 in the morning eyes half-open and the body somnolent dragging itself across our dark corridor. maybe I should kill the cat. I can imagine her looking for him in the streets at dawn heavy knees bending, palms pressed to the asphalt she will not find him under cars or on our sooted rooftop by the

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Three months of intensive training, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and still, your right shoulder cramps now under the weight of the backpack. You had been far too nervous to remember to rub in some pain relief ointment there this morning. You could use some of its heat in the below-zero cold of the Syrian winter morning. Your abaya’s thin syn-thetic silk offers little insulation against the frosty wind that licks your exposed face. Shaking your head, you look around in an effort to remind yourself of why you are here. Your sheila, fastened around your face

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The ceasefire held; the war was over. In its wake, I decided to visit my family in Nazareth, who during the war had seemed quite far away from me. After sleeping in (a rare treat) and after several cups of savored coffee, I left. It was dohr prayer when I strolled from my house to the city center, and not the best planned of departures — as being quite absent-minded I had neglected to remember that it was Friday. Friday is, after all, the holy day of rest, when the streets of downtown Ramallah are emptied of prevailing chaos, and suffocating silence

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