by Fazia Aitel
(University Press of Florida; 306 pages; Oct 2014).
Examines the songs, oral traditions, and literature since the 1930s of Berbers or Kabyles, who refer to themselves as imazighen or “free people.” Fazia Aïtel shows how they have defined their own culture over time. Ultimately, she argues that the Amazigh literary tradition is founded on dual priorities: the desire to foster a genuine dialogue while retaining a unique culture.
Baghdad: The City in Verse edited and translated by Reuven Snir (Harvard University Press; 384 pages; $29.95). In this unusual anthology, Reuven Snir offers original translations of more than 170 Arabic poems—most of them appearing for the first time in English—which represent a cross-section of genres and styles from the time of Baghdad’s founding in the eighth century to the present day.
Divine Love: Islamic Literature and the Path to God by William C. Chittick (Yale University Press; 520 pages; July 2013). Bringing to light extensive foundational Persian sources never before presented, Chittick draws on more than a thousand pages of newly translated material to depict the rich prose literature at the center of Islamic thought.
Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāma: Millennial Perspectives edited by Olga M. Davidson and Marianna Shreve Simpson (Harvard University Press; Sept. 2013). This volume undertakes a new look at the reception of Ferdowsi’s epic poem, Book of Kings, especially in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries CE. Such a reception, the contributors to this book argue, actively engages the visual as well as the verbal arts of Iranian civilization.
Islam Translated: Literature, Conversion, and the Arabic Cosmopolis of South and Southeast Asia by Ronit Ricci (University of Chicago Press, 2011). The spread of Islam eastward into South and Southeast Asia was one of the most significant cultural shifts in world history. As it expanded into these regions, Islam was received by cultures vastly different from those in the Middle East, incorporating them into a diverse global community that stretched from India to the Philippines.
Jami by Hamid Algar (Oxford; 160 pages; $24.95). ’Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414-1492) is a culminating figure in Perso-Islamic culture. Primarily celebrated as a poet, Jami was also an accomplished Islamic scholar and Arabist, a Sufi of great standing, and an acerbic polemicist and social critic.
Judeo-Arabic Literature in Tunisia, 1850-1950 by Yosef Tobi and Tsivia Tobi (Wayne State University Press; 367 pages; Oct 2014). Translation and study of satirical ballads, liturgical poems, laments, and other writings in the Jewish vernacular.
Mirror of Dew: The Poetry of Ālam-Tāj Zhāle Qā’em-Maqām Translated with commentary by Asghar Seyed-Gohrab. Mirror of Dew introduces one of Iran’s outstanding female poets, whose work has not previously been available in English. Zhāle Qā’em-Maqāmi (1883–1946) was a witness to pivotal social and political developments in Iran during its transition to modernity.
Mutual Othering: Islam, Modernity, and the Politics of Cross-Cultural Encounters in Pre-colonial Moroccan and European Travel Writing by by Ahmed Idrissi Alami (State University of New York Press; 272 pages; July 2013). Juxtaposes Moroccan travel writing in Arabic against British and French writing about Morocco.
Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy: The Politics of the Turkish Novel by Erdag Göknar (Routledge; 314 pages; 2013). This is the first critical study of all of Pamuk’s novels. Göknar’s book is not a traditional study of literature, but a book that turns to literature to ask larger questions about recent transformations in Turkish history, identity, modernity, and collective memory.
The Story of Joseph: A Fourteenth-Century Turkish Morality Play by Sheyyad Hamza, translated by Bill Hickman (Syracuse University Press; 148 pages; 2014). Translation of a text that depicts the biblical prophet and hero from a Muslim perspective.
Transmigrational Writings Between the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa: Literature, Orality, Visual Arts by Helene Colette Tissieres, translated by Marjolijn de Jager (University of Virginia Press; 280 pages; $29.50). Explores continuities between two regions of Francophone literature through a study of Abdelwahab Meddeb, Werewere Liking, Tchicaya U Tam’Si, and Assia Djebar.
Trials of Arab Modernity: Literary Affects and the New Political by Tarek El-Aliss (Fordham University Press; 248 pages; March 2013). This study offers close readings of the simultaneous performances and contestations of modernity staged in works by authors such as Rifa’a al-Tahtawi, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, Hamdi Abu Golayyel, and Ahmad Alaidy.
The World of Persian Literary Humanism by Hamid Dabashi (Harvard University Press; 346 pages; $35). Documents a tradition of literary humanism linked to a cosmopolitan urbanism in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest.