The Gifts of Movement | Transformative Migrations in the Digital Age: Saïd Khatibi and Amara Lakhous in conversation with Alexander Elinson


Location: Live on Zoom

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Saïd Khatibi is a novelist, travel writer, translator, and cultural journalist, born in 1984 in Bou Saâda, Algeria. He writes in Arabic and French and translates between both. He has a BA in French Literature from the University of Algiers and an MA in Cultural Studies from the Sorbonne. Sarajevo Firewood is his third novel in Arabic (and first in English translation), and was shortlisted for the 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. His other novels are Kitab al-Khataya (Book of Errors), Editions ANEP, 2013, and Forty Years Waiting for Isabelle, 2016, about the real-life Swiss traveler Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), for which he won the 2017 Katara Award for the Novel. He has a travel book about the Balkans, The Inflamed Gardens of the East, 2015, and has written extensively on raï music, including a book (Wedding Fire, 2010) that tells its story. He lives in Slovenia.

Amara Lakhous was born in Algeria in 1970. He moved to Italy in 1995. He has a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers and another in Humanities from the University of Rome, La Sapienza where he completed a Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Living Islam as a Minority.” He is the author of five novels, three of which were written in both Arabic and Italian. His best known works are the much acclaimed Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), Divorce Islamic Style (2012), A Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet (2014), and The Prank of the Good Little Virgin in Via Ormea (2016). His latest novel in Arabic, Tir al-lil (The Night Bird), was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, 2021. His novels have been translated from Italian into many languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Danish and Persian. Lakhous has been awarded, among others, the Flaiano Prize in Italy in 2006 and the Algerians Booksellers Prize in 2008. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio has been adapted into a movie by the Italian director Isotta Toso in 2010 and many theater productions. It was chosen for the 2014 New Student Reading Project at Cornell University. Lakhous moved to New York City in August of 2014 and is currently teaching in the Italian Department of New York University.

Alexander Elinson is Associate Professor of Arabic and Head of the Arabic Program Hunter College of the City University of New York. He received his M.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle (1998) and his Ph.D. from Columbia University (2004). In addition to his book Looking back at al-Andalus: the poetics of loss and nostalgia in medieval Arabic and Hebrew Literature, he has written extensively on classical Arabic and Hebrew poetry and prose, as well as on contemporary language politics and ideology, prison narratives, and oral and written culture in Morocco. He has translated two novels by Youssef Fadel: A Beautiful White Cat Walks with Me and A Shimmering Red Fish Swims with Me, the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. He has also translated Hot Maroc by Yassin Adnan. His translation of Khadija Marouazi`s prison novel History of Ash will be published in 2023. He is currently translating Amara Lakhous`s latest novel, The Night Bird.

Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, and Resistance, launched by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, is a research collective and lecture series co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and housed at the newly launched Initiative on Race and Resilience, directed by Mark Sanders, Professor of English and Africana Studies. The series focuses on contemporary literature, film, and visual art that has been shaped by revolutionary and resistance movements, decolonization, migration, class and economic warfare, communal and state-sanctioned violence, and human rights violations. We aim to theorize new modes of contemporary literary and artistic resistance across national borders and to amplify the voices of scholars, artists, and writers of color whose lived experience is instrumental in forging new alliances across formal, linguistic and national boundaries.



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