NEW DATE: RE-SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY, JULY 29 (one week after previous date)
NEW DATE! JULY 29: Books from Banned Lands - Syria
Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami
We are excited to announce the launch of our new reading group, Books from Banned Lands, which will read contemporary literature (in English translations) from the seven Middle Eastern and North African countries targeted by the “Muslim ban” executive order of January 2017.
Starting with Rafik Schami's Damascus Nights representing Syria, we'll read books from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, finishing the series around the one-year anniversary of the attempted ban. This reading group comes out of a desire to do something, specifically as a bookstore, to resist the dehumanization of refugees, immigrants, Arabs, Arabic-speakers, and Muslims in the United States. All readers are welcome for any and all of the meetings!
The Books from Banned Lands reading group will meet on the third Saturday of every month at 3:00 pm, on the following schedule.
NEW DATE! Saturday, July 29: SYRIA
Damascus Nights, by Rafik Schami
Saturday, August 19: IRAQ
A Sky So Close, by Betool Khedairi
Saturday, September 23: LIBYA
In the Country of Men, by Hisham Matar
Saturday, October 21: IRAN
Sin, by Forough Farrokhzad
Saturday, November 18: SUDAN
Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih
Saturday, December 16 (earlier for the holidays): SOMALIA
Black Mamba Boy, by Nadifa Mohamed
Saturday, January 20 (One year since the Executive Order!): YEMEN
Hurma, by Ali Al-Muqri
All books will be available in advance at the Penn Book Center.
About Damascus Nights, from publisher Interlink Books:
"In the classical Arab tradition of tale-telling, here is a magical book that celebrates the power of storytelling, delightfully transformed for modern sensibilities by an award-winning author. The time is present-day Damascus, and Salim the coachman, the city's most famous storyteller, is mysteriously struck dumb. To break the spell, seven friends gather for seven nights to present Salim with seven wondrous "gifts"—seven stories of their own design. Upon this enchanting frame of tales told in the fragrant Arabian night, the words of the past grow fainter, as ancient customs are yielding to modern turmoil. While the hairdresser, the teacher, the wife of the locksmith sip their tea and pass the water pipe, they swap stories about the magical and the mundane: about djinnis and princesses, about contemporary politics and the difficulties of bargaining in a New York department store. And as one tale leads to another... and another... all of Damascus appears before your eyes, along with a vision of storytelling—and talk—as the essence of friendship, of community, of life."
A sly and graceful work, a delight to readers young and old, Damascus Nights is, according to Publishers Weekly, "a highly atmospheric, pungent narrative."
Rafik Schami was born in Damascus in 1946, came to Germany in 1971 and studied chemistry in Heidelberg. Today he is the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer. His novels have been translated into 21 languages and received numerous international awards. His bestselling novel The Dark Side of Love (Interlink, 2009) received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was selected by PW as a Favorite Summer Read.
"A master spinner of innocently beguiling yarns, slyly oblivious to the Western cartographies of narrative art and faithful only to the oral itineraries of Arab storytellers, Rafik Schami plays with the genre of the Western novel, and he explodes it from within." - Anton Shammas