Reading Canon of Arabic literature
Afdal ma qara’t: A short Introduction
We contacted many Arab intellectuals and personalities, and asked them to submit titles of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that they would recommend reading. We had twenty-nine replies, this also included one German who contributed to this project.
Each project participant was allowed to recommend up to ten titles from Arabic literature including poetry, prose and theatre. Also, three non-fiction titles, including philosophy, politics, economics, social criticism, biography etc. Additionally, two translations from world literature could also be proposed.
We purposefully refrained from specifying any proportion between fiction and non-fiction books, neither the proportion between prose and poetry. This was also the case between old and modern, as it was not of our wish or intention at this stage of the project to introduce too many restrictions.
Surprisingly, one of the most recommend book was ‘The Epistles on Forgiveness’ by one of the greatest Arab poets of the Abbasid period, Abu l-Ala al-Ma’arri (973-1057), which illustrates that classical works do not necessarily lose their importance in the present time.
There are a few recommendation lists and guides regarding Arab literature, all of which seem to focus more on recent publications. Whereas our list here will cover many generations from Millennium BC to the present day.
One might argue about which books are worth reading.
This suggested reading list is not intended at this stage to replace any academic reading schedule, nor is it scientific or comprehensive. Basically, however, if you read one book, you will soon reach for the next!
At present, the list contains 378 titles: 234 literary works, including 37 works from other languages translated into Arabic; and 144 non-fiction books, including 33 translated into Arabic from other languages. (Lists / Index/ downloads)
The text compilations are based on articles from the free encyclopedia. The work on this nonprofit project falls under community service.
Our long-term ambition is to compile a ‘literary canon’.
To enable this to happen we request your support and contributions, as this list is still under construction and will be updated regularly, with the ultimate aim to be a useful reference for both schools and universities.
The project team:
Abier Bushnaq, Nabil Bushnaq,
Fadia Foda, Hamid Fadlalla.
We would like to thank all the contributors of this first edition, without whose cooperation the project would not have come about:
Salih Almani, Laila al-Atrash, Asmahan Azzouni, Mohammed Abu l-Fadl Badran, Atta El-Battahani, Mahmoud Choucair, Rawan Damen, Faisal Darraj, Khairy Douma, Mansoura Ezz Eldin, Hartmut Fähndrich, Khalid Mohamed Farah, Salam Kawakibi, Hassan Khader, Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al-Hajin, Alnoor Hamad, Aref al-Hijjawi, Ahmed al-Madini, Mohamed Mahmoud, Ibrahim Malik, Ali al-Muqri, Habib Abdulrab Sarori, Khalil Shaikh, Ibrahim al-Sha’er Zaqout. (contributors)
This is a method that the German Focus Magazine had used in 2002 in a similar project. The idea of our project was also inspired by the book “Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” by Peter Boxall.
These include ‘The International Prize for Arab Fiction (Novel)’, also ‘The Best 100 Arabic Books’ published by the Arab Writers Union, and recently Banipal’s survey in November 20018 (volume 63) over ‘The 100 Best Arabic Novels’, all of which focus generally on recent publications. There are however only a few reading projects that include works from many different eras such as ‘One Book in a Newspaper’ a project sponsored by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation and UNESCO, involving some of the major Arabic daily newspapers and a large number of leading intellectuals, scientists and writers. This project ran from 1995 to 2011 (see http://www.Kitabfijarida.com). Also there are certainly numerous other unmentioned efforts on an individual basis.
Wikipedia and are licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/. A list of the authors is available on Wikipedia. Most of the illustrations are also taken from there. If the source is different, we’ve mentioned it.
Twenty-nine contributors participated to this project, including one German. Reading lists.
Four members of the Ibn Rushd Fund compiled the lists and gathered material for presentation.
Our long-term ambition is to compile a ‘literary canon’. We therefore hope to continue working on this list with the help of more contributors. Contact us!