The PEN Ten Interview: Ahmed Naji on Language, Identity, and Writing in Exile

This interview was first published at: https://pen.org/ahmed-naji-pen-ten-interview/ By: Lily Philpott May 2, 2019 The PEN Ten is PEN America’s weekly interview series. This week Lily Philpott, Public Programs Manager at PEN America, speaks with Ahmed Naji, 2016 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award recipient and the author of three books: Rogers (2007), Seven Lessons Learned from Ahmed … Continue reading The PEN Ten Interview: Ahmed Naji on Language, Identity, and Writing in Exile

M.A.Orthofer: The complete review’s Review

Puplished fist at The complete review: http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/egypt/najia.htm  Using Life is a novel of Cairo, and of a younger generation of Egyptians struggling in a culture and society that is both extremely deeply-rooted (in history, tradition, etc.) and unmoored. The first chapter is nothing short of apocalyptic in its vision, first burying Cairo under a mountain … Continue reading M.A.Orthofer: The complete review’s Review

Interview with Ben & arablit: ‘I Wanted to Write Something More Fantastical’

Ahmed Naji — winner of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award — remains on trial for his novel Using Life, for its alleged violation of “public morals.” The novel recently appeared in English, and Naji and translator Ben Koerber talk about the book, the legal case, and what Naji’s working on next: Ben Koerber: To start off, could you … Continue reading Interview with Ben & arablit: ‘I Wanted to Write Something More Fantastical’

Yasmine Seale: After the Revolution

 Was published first in: https://harpers.org/archive/2018/01/after-the-revolution-2/ Iwas in a classroom in Turkey recently, explaining the word utopia. From u and topos: “no-place,” possibly a pun on eu-topos, “good place.” See also: dystopia. That, too, is a place that doesn’t exist, but— “Oh,” someone interrupted, “it exists.” My students were Syrian refugees, and they were taking no lessons on where the border lay between the real and … Continue reading Yasmine Seale: After the Revolution

Sam Sacks on Using Life

Published first on: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-new-fiction-1513970981 In 2015,shortly after Ahmed Naji published his novel “Using Life” (Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 196 pages, $21.95), a sexually explicit dystopian fantasy that imagines the destruction of Cairo under a tsunami of sand, an elderly reader wrote the authorities to complain that the book had caused him … Continue reading Sam Sacks on Using Life