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Book reading Dec. 1 features Arabic authors

Miral al-Tahawy and Taleb Al-Refai will present a book reading Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m. at University Bookstore at Appalachian State University. The public is invited.

Al-Tahawy, also known as Miral Mahgoub, is the author of four novels, including the recently published “Brooklyn Heights,” which has been nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. A native of Egypt, she teaches Arabic in Appalachian’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

miral_al_tahawy_300.jpgMiral al-Tahawy, author of four contemporary Arabic novels, will read from her work Dec. 1 at the University Bookstore at Appalachian State University. Her recent novel, “Brooklyn Heights,” has been nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

“Brooklyn Heights” tells the story of five female Arab immigrants living in Brooklyn as each tries to reconcile the history, religion and culture of their native countries while struggling to survive as a female immigrant in America.

The novel is full of meticulously collected female characters presented by al-Tahawy with their unusual life experiences in New York’s famous neighborhood. Al-Tahawy follows her characters from childhood to their decisions to leave their husbands and the patriarchal values that dominate Middle Eastern and North African countries.

She also is the author of a short story collection and the novels “The Tent,” “Blue Aubergine” and “Gazelle Tracks” and two academic texts about Arab women’s writing and taboos.

Kuwaiti native Al-Refai has published six collections of short stories, three novels, one play and several literary studies. He began writing short stories while a student in the 1970s, publishing them in Kuwaiti newspapers. Al-Refai worked as an engineer before joining the National Council for Culture, Art, and Literature as manager of the council’s culture and art department in the mid-1990s.

Al-Refai became known to a wider Arab readership through his novel “The Shadow of the Sun” published in 1998. The novel deals with the fate of immigrant guest workers. In “The Scent of the Sea,” for which he won the Kuwaiti State Prize for Literature, he tackles issues of sexual abuse in the family, the oppression of women, and extra-marital affairs.

Critic Rasim al-Madhun wrote, “Taleb Al-Refai succeeds in tearing the mask from the face of Arab society, revealing the tragedy which dominates the fates of younger generations.”

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