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Beirut39 Authors

Beirut39 inspired a fresh look at modern Arab literature. A collaboration between the Hay Festival and Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009, the project brought together 39 of the best known and loved writers of Arab heritage under 39 years of age. In Beirut the East, the West and the Mediterranean combine to produce a unique cultural mix. Beirut39 is a great opportunity to discover new voices in Arab literature. These talented writers feature in the Beirut39 anthology.

Find out more about the Beirut39 project.

Abdullah Thabit - Saudi Arabia

Abdullah Thabit

Abdullah Thabit was born in 1973 in the Saudi city of Abha. He holds a BA in Arabic language and literature from the University of King Khaled (KSA). He has published five books of poetry, short stories and a novel.

Abdelaziz Errachidi - Morocco

Abdelaziz Errachidi

Abdelaziz Errachidi was born in Zagora (south of Morocco), in 1978. He is a writer and a journalist. He has published the novel Nomads on the Cliff (Department of Culture, Emirates, 2006; second edition, House of Arab Publishers, Lebanon, 2008), as well as the collections of short stories Alley of Death (Group of Novel Research, Morocco, 2004), Childhood of a Frog (Union of Moroccan Writers, Morocco, 2005), and Sands of Pain, House Faces (Saudi Arabia, 2007). His volume of essays Foreigners at my Table was published by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture in 2008. He has received several prizes: the Union of Moroccan Writers’ Prize for Childhood of a Frog, 2005; the Acharika Arabic Prize in the Emirates for Nomads on the Cliff, 2006; the Sakyat Essawi Prize for his short story, ‘The Basket of Colours’, Egypt, 2006; and a writing scholarship for Almawred Takafi, Egypt, 2007. He was also selected for an international residency in the Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland in 2008, and in Camac, France, for two months in 2009.

Abdelkader Benali - Morocco/Netherlands

Abdelkader Benali

Abdelkader Benali was born in The Netherlands in 1975, of Moroccan origins. Benali published his first novel Bruiloft aan zee ('Wedding by the Sea') in 1996, which received the Geertjan Lubberhuizen Prize. For his second novel, De langverwachte ('The Long-Awaited', 2002), Benali was awarded the Libris Literature Prize. He has since published the novels Laat het morgen mooi weer zijn ('Let Tomorrow Be Fine', 2005) and Feldman en ik ('Feldman and I', 2006). He also writes plays and occasionally works in the field of journalism. In 2005, together with the historian Herman Obdeijn, he published Marokko door Nederlandse ogen 1605-2005 ('Morocco Through Dutch Eyes 1605-2005').

Abderrahim Elkhassar - Morocco

Abderrahim Elkhassar

Abderrahim Elkhassar was born in Asfi, Morocco, in 1975. He has participated in many festivals in Morocco and internationally. He has published three collections of poetry.

Abderrazak Boukebba - Algeria

Abderrazak Boukebba

Abderrazak Boukebba was born in Eastern Algeria in 1977. He earned a BA in literature in 1996 and worked as a consultant to the National Library and as an editor of a number of TV and radio shows. He is the recipient of the President Award in Algeria and has published three collections of poetry and a novel.

Abdellah Taïa - Morocco

Abdellah Taïa

Abdellah Taïa was born in Rabat in 1973 into a poor family. He lived in the city of Salé until 1998. He now lives in Paris. Editions du Seuil has published five books in French inspired by his life; amongst them Le Rouge du tarbouche (2005), L'armée du salut (2006) and Une mélancolie arabe (2008). His work has been translated into several languages. He was been shortlisted twice for the prestigious French literary prize, le Renaudot. Abdellah Taïa is the first Moroccan and Arab writer to declare publicly his homosexuality.

Adania Shibli - Palestine

Adania Shibli

Adania Shibli (Palestine, 1974), has twice been awarded the Young Writer’s Award – Palestine by the AM Qattan Foundation for her novels Masaas ('Touch', al-Adab, 2002) and Kulluna Ba’eed Bethat al Miqdar ‘an al Hub ('We Are All Equally Far From Love,' al-Adab, 2004). Her short stories and essays have been appearing in various magazines, such as Al-Karmel, Al-Adaab, Iowa Review, Sight & Sound Esprit, La Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF), Le Monde Diplomatique, among others. Shibli has a PhD in media and cultural studies from the University of East London.

Ahmad Saadawi - Iraq

Ahmad Saadawi

Ahmad Saadawi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1973. He is a novelist, a poet, a painter and a journalist. He was a correspondent for the BBC for a number of years and currently supervises a TV show on the Hurra satellite TV station. He has published four books of poetry and two novels. His novel Beautiful Country won the first place in a literary competition held in the UAE.

Ahmad Yamani - Egypt

Ahmad Yamani

Ahmad Yamani is an Egyptian poet and translator who lives in Madrid. He was born in Cairo in 1970 and holds a diploma in graduate studies (DEA) from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid where he is also working on his PHD. Yamani has been publishing his poems since 1989 and has published four books of poetry so far.

Ala Hlehel - Palestine

Ala Hlehel

Ala Hlehel, born in 1974, is the Palestinian author of a novel, Al-Sirk ('The Circus', 2001), a collection of short stories, Stories in Time of Need, and a play. He is a two-time winner of the al-Qattan Young Writer Award. His script entitled “The Inheritance” was awarded the second prize in the School of Screenwriting (Tel Aviv) Competition. He has written numerous short stories, plays for theatre, and scripts for film and TV. In 2003 he took part in the annual international playwrights’ residency at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Photo: Ali Ghandtschi

Yahya Amqassim - Saudi Arabia

Yahya Amqassim

Yahya Amqassim (1971) was born in Saudi Arabia. He has published two books The Crow Leg in 2008 and Stories from Saudi Arabia in 2004.

Bassim al-Ansar - Iraq

Bassim al-Ansar

Bassim al-Ansar was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1970. He holds a BA in business from Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. He has been publishing his poetry since the early 1990s and in 1997 published a play in verse called The Man of the Willows. In 2007 he published his first book of poetry under the title The Hymns of the Son of Adam. Al-Ansar has lived in Denmark since 1998.

Dima Wannous - Syria

Dima Wannous

Dima Wannous was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1982. A short story collection of hers that was published in 2007 earned her the attention of literary critics. In 2008 she published her first novel, A Chair. She presents a cultural TV show on a satellite network.

Faiza Guene - Algeria/France

Faiza Guene

Faiza Guene was born in France in 1985 to Algerian parents. She wrote her first novel, Kiffe kiffe demain ('Just Like Tomorrow') when she was 17 years old. It was a huge success in France, selling over 360,000 copies and translation rights around the world. She’s also the author of Du rêve pour les oufs in 2006 and Les gens du Balto in 2008.

Hala Kawtharani - Lebanon

Hala Kawtharani

Hala Kawtharani was born in Beirut in August 1977. She studied political science and Arabic Literature at the American University of Beirut. She publishes a weekly short story in the Beiruti magazine Laha. She has published two novels.

Hamdy el Gazzar - Egypt

Hamdy el Gazzar

Hamdy el Gazzar was born on 1 October 1970 in Guiza, Egypt. He gained a graduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Cairo in 1992. After publishing many short stories, he published two novels, of which The Black Magic was published in English by AUC Press in Cairo and awarded the Sawiris Foundation Prize for Egyptian Literature in 2006.

Hussein al-Abri - Oman

Hussein al-Abri

Hussein al-Abri was born in 1972. Since 2000 he has published three novels and one collection of short stories. He lives in Muscat, Oman, and works as a hospital doctor.

Hussein Jelaad - Jordan

Hussein Jelaad

Hussein Jelaad is a Jordanian writer born in 1970 and has published two books of poetry, Eternal Crucifixion of the Prominent (1999) and As Prophets Lose (2007). He is currently a journalist at Aljazeera Network. He writes about political and cultural affairs. He has contributed to Al-Arab Al-Yawm and Al-Ra’i Arabic Daily as well as working as a freelancer for An-Nahar, published in Lebanon. Jelaad is the Jordanian Ambassador to the Movement poets of the world, a literary organization based in Chile, with a membership of thousands of world poets. He is also a member of the Administrative Body of the Jordanian Writers League (2004–2006).

Hyam Yared - Lebanon

Hyam Yared

Hyam Yared was born in Beirut in 1975, and continues to live there as an increasingly celebrated Francophone writer. Hyam has participated in literary events all over the world, most recently the Liverpool Biennale. Her short story, Layla’s Belly has been translated to English and is included in Beirut 39: New Writing from the Arab World (Bloomsbury: 2010). Sous la tonnelle, Hyam’s second novel, won the Phoenix Award in 2009. The book has received major press coverage, and has been featured on TV and radio programmes in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Lebanon. After being shortlisted for the Prix du Roman Arabe in 2010, awarded by the IMA (Arab World Institute) in Paris, the book was a finalist for the Prix des Cinq Continents, awarded by OIF (International Organization of Francophony). Hyam’s first collection of poetry “Reflets de lune” was awarded a gold medal at the 4th Francophone Games in Ottawa-Hull Quebec. Her second collection of poems, “Blessures de l’eau”(2004), has been translated to English by Richard Burns, Melanie Rein and Jack Hirschman. Naître si mourir is her third collection of poetry, published in France by L’idée bleue.

Islam Samhan - Jordan

Islam Samhan

Islam Samhan, born in Jordan in 1982 of Palestinian origin. His collection of poetry Lighthearted was published in Oman in 2008.

Joumana Haddad - Lebanon

Joumana Haddad

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1970, Joumana Haddad is a poet, journalist, translator and editor of the cultural pages of the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar. She is the founder of Jasad, an Arabic language publication specialising in literature, art and body sciences, where she currently works as the editor. Her books include Death Will Come and It Will Have Your Eyes, Bad Habits, Mirrors of the Passers-by, I Killed Scheherazade and Superman is an Arab. As a journalist she has interviewed José Saramago, Umberto Eco, Paul Auster, Yves Bonnefoy, Peter Handke and Elfriede Jelinek.

Kamel Riahi - Tunisia

Kamel Riahi

Kamel Riahi was born in the village of al Manafikh, Tunisia, in 1974. He has published two collections of short stories and a novel, al-Mishrat ('Scalpel'), which has been widely reviewed. He teaches in Algeria.

Mansour El Souwaim - Sudan

Mansour El Souwaim

Mansour El Souwaim was born south of Darfur in 1970. He has published two novels and two collections of short stories. His novel Dhakirat Shirrir (2005) won the Tayeb Salih Award for creative writing. In 2004 a collection of short stories appeared in Arabic and French.

Mansoura Ez Eldin - Egypt

Mansoura Ez Eldin

Mansoura Ez Eldin was born in Egypt in 1976. Her collection Dhaw’a Muhtaz (Shaken Light) was published in Cairo in 2001. Her successful debut novel Maryam’s Mazewas was published by the award-winning Merit publishers in 2004, with the English edition published by AUC Press, Cairo. She has worked in Egyptian television, and presently runs the book review section of the renowned Egyptian literary magazine Akhbar al-Adab (Literature News). Her second novel Beyond Paradise was shortlisted for the Arabic Booker Prize 2010.

Mohammad Hassan Alwan - Saudi Arabia

Mohammad Hassan Alwan

Mohammad Hassan Alwan is a Saudi author born in 1979 who has published two novels and a collection of short stories.

Mohammad Salah Al Azab - Egypt

Mohammad Salah Al Azab

Mohammad Salah Al Azab is Egyptian, born in 1981. His first novel A Long Cellar with a Low Ceiling Making You Crouch was published by Suad Al-Sabah Publishers in 2003. That same year, his short story collection Blue in a Sad Way was published by the Higher Council for Culture in Cairo. In 2007, his second novel Repeated Stopping was published by Dar Merit, followed by his third, The Italian's Bed, in 2008. He has won seven literary awards, including the Suad Al-Sabah Award for the Novel, and the Higher Council for Culture’s Award for the Short Story in 1999 and 2004. He also won the Higher Council for Culture Award for the Novel in 2004.

Nagat Ali - Egypt

Nagat Ali

Nagat Ali was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1975. She earned an MA cum laude for her thesis 'Irony in the Short Stories of Yusef Idris'. She has published three books of poetry and is currently working on her PhD dissertation on 'The narrator in the novels of Nagib Mahfouz'.

Najwa Binshatwan - Libya

Najwa Binshatwan

Najwa Binshatwan, a Libyan writer born in 1970, is author of the novel Madmun Burtuqali (2007), and two collections of short stories Tifl Al-Waw (2006) and Qisas Laysat Lil-Rijal (2004).

Najwan Darwish - Palestine

Najwan Darwish

Najwan Darwish was born in Palestine, in 1978. His first book, He was Knocking at the Last Door, was published in 2000, and since then his poetry has appeared in several anthologies. He is the editor of a new cultural magazine which publishes the works of the emerging generation of Arab writers.

Photo: Véronique Vercheval

Nazem El Sayed - Lebanon

Nazem El Sayed

Nazem El Sayed was born in 1975. He has published four collections of poetry and his work has been included in several anthologies.

Rabee Jaber - Lebanon

Rabee Jaber

Rabee Jaber was born in 1972 in Beirut. He is the editor of the weekly cultural supplement of al-Hayat daily newspaper. Since 1992 he has published 16 novels. Jaber is considered to be one of the most talented young novelists.

Randa Jarrar - Egypt/US

Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar is an award-winning short story writer, translator, essayist, and author of the critically acclaimed novel, A Map of Home, which was published in 5 languages. She resides in Austin, Texas.

Rosa Yassin Hassan - Syria

Rosa Yassin Hassan

Rosa Yassin Hassan was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1974. She completed her degree in architecture in 1998. Her first book of short stories was published in 2000. Her first novel Ebony was published in 2004 and it won the Hanna Mina Prize for the Novel. It has been translated into German. Her second novel, Negative, was about female political prisoners in Syria. Her third novel, The Guardians of the Air, was published in 2009.

Samar Yezbek - Syria

Samar Yezbek

Samar Yezbek is a writer and also works in the media. She was born in the city of Jabla, Syria, in 1970. She has published two books of poetry and three novels. She also writes screenplays for TV movies. Her Low Skies won best prize for a TV screenplay in a UN competition.

Samer Abou Hawwash - Palestine

Samer Abou Hawwash

Samer Abou Hawwash was born in 1972 in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. He has published several poetical works and two novels: Valentine's Day, followed by Al Saada or Silsilat Infijarat Hazat Al Asima ('Happiness or A Series of Explosions Rocked the Capital'). He translates both poetry and prose and has contributed as well to many Arabic cultural supplements. Since 2004 he has lived and worked in United Arab Emirates.

ajdi Al Ahdal - Yemen

Wajdi Al Ahdal

Wajdi Al Ahdal, born in Yemen in 1973, is the author of Quarantine Philosopher, for which he was nominated for the Arab Literary Prize 2008.

Yassin Adnan - Morocco

Yassin Adnan

Yassin Adnan, a Moroccan writer born in 1970, is author of three books of poems, Mannequins (2000), a Rasif al-qiyama ('Resurrection Pavement', 2003) and La akad ara ('I Can Hardly See', 2007). As well as poetry he has published two collections of short stories: Man yusaddiq al-rasa'il? (2001) and Tuffah al-zill (2006), and Marakish: asrar mu'lana ('Marrakesh: Heralded Secrets', 2008), a literary text which attempts to outline the history of his home town, combining prose and poetry. He holds the prizes of Moufdi Zakaria (Algeria, 1991), of the Union of Writers in Morocco (1998) and the Buland al-Haydari Prize for the Young Poet (Asilah, 2003).

Youssef Rakha - Egypt

Youssef Rakha

Born in Cairo in 1976, Youssef Rakha earned a BA in English and philosophy from Hull University, England. From 1998 he worked as reporter, copy editor and cultural editor at Al-Ahram Weekly, the Cairo-based English-language newspaper, taking a sabbatical year (2008-2009) to work as a features writer at the Abu Dhabi-based daily, The National. His reportage, travel writing, photography, fiction and poetry – written originally in either Arabic or English – have appeared in numerous publications in Cairo, Beirut, London, Berlin, Italy and the US, as well as on the World Wide Web. He has exhibited photos at the Goethe Institute, Cairo, and has so far published five books in Arabic.

Zaki Baydoun - Lebanon

Zaki Baydoun

Zaki Baydoun was born in Tyre, Lebanon in 1981. He is a poet and a painter. He has published two books of poetry and has shown his artwork in a number of shows in Lebanon. He earned an MA in philosophy from the Université de St Denis in Paris. His thesis was on 'Kant's concept of tripartite'.