Through poetry, short stories, and novel-length explorations, three exceptional Arab writers contend with the myriad of meanings from a part of the world that is so regularly and relentlessly flattened in the Western gaze. Speaking together are winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize Noor Naga (If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English), CBC Short Story Prize finalist Saeed Teebi (Her First Palestinian), and Maya Angelou Book Award winner Threa Almontaser (The Wild Fox of Yemen). In very different forms and styles, their work addresses questions of belonging, of place, and of absence of place—that strange ungrounded sensation that so often comes with being from one part of the world and finding yourself in another. Moderated and curated by Omar El Akkad.
Presented in partnership with UBC Library.
THREA ALMONTASER is a Yemeni American author from New York City. Almontaser’s debut collection of poetry, The Wild Fox of Yemen, was selected for the 2020 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets by Harryette Mullen. (YEMEN/ UNITED STATES)
OMAR EL AKKAD is an author and journalist. His debut novel, American War, was listed as one of the best books of the year by GQ, NPR, and Esquire. His new novel, What Strange Paradise, won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, and the Oregon Book Award. He joins the Vancouver Writers Fest as Guest Curator in 2022. (EGYPT/ONTARIO/UNITED STATES)
NOOR NAGA is an Alexandrian writer who was born in Philadelphia and now lives in Alexandria. She has been awarded the Bronwen Wallace Award, the Disquiet Fiction Prize, and the Graywolf Press Africa Prize. She joins us with her debut novel, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English. (EGYPT/UNITED STATES)
is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. His story “Her First Palestinian” was shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize and is the title of his latest collection of short stories. He was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait and has lived in Canada since 1993. (ONTARIO/PALESTINE)