Abdul Rahman Munif

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Abdul Rahman Munif (May 29, 1933 – January 24, 2004) (Arabic: عبد الرحمن منيف‎) was a Jordanian-born Saudi novelist.[1] His novels include strong political elements and parodies of the Middle Eastern elite class.

Life[edit]

Munif was born a Saudi national and brought up in Amman, Jordan to Saudi parents and an Iraqi grandmother.[2] In 1952 he moved to Baghdad to study law and later moved to Cairo. He received a law degree from the Sorbonne and a PhD in oil economics from the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Economics.[3] He later returned to Iraq to work in the oil ministry and became a member of the Ba'ath Party.

He began writing in the 1970s after he left his job with the Iraqi ministry, quit the Ba'ath party, and moved to Damascus, Syria, removing himself from a regime he opposed. He quickly became known for his scathing parodies of Middle Eastern elites, especially those of Saudi Arabia, a country which banned many of his books and stripped him of Saudi citizenship.[4] He used his knowledge of the oil industry to full effect criticizing the businessmen who ran it and the politicians they served.

Munif was the author of a total of fifteen novels. The Cities of Salt quintet followed the evolution of the Arabian peninsula as its traditional Bedouin culture is transformed by the oil boom. The novels create a history of a broad region, evoking comparisons to William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. The quintet begins with Mudun al-Milh (مدن الملح, Cities of Salt, 1984) in the desert oasis of Wadi al-Uyoun that is disrupted by the arrival of Western oilmen in an image similar to that of the disrupted village of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. As Achebe described the effects on a traditional African village of the arrival of powerful missionaries, so Munif chronicles the economic, social, and psychological effects of the promise of immeasurable wealth drawn from the deserts of nomad and oasis communities. The quintet continues with Al-ukhdud (1985;The Trench), Taqasim al-layl wa-al-nahar (1989; Variations on Night and Day), Al-munbatt (1989; The Uprooted), and Badiyat al zulumat (1989; The Desert of Darkness). Daniel Burt ranked the quintet as the 71st greatest novel of all time.[5] The last two novels in the series have not been translated into English.

While his works were never particularly successful in the west, throughout the Middle East they are critically acclaimed and extremely popular. Cities of Salt was described by Edward Said as the "only serious work of fiction that tries to show the effect of oil, Americans and the local oligarchy on a Gulf country."[6]

While he was one of the fiercest critics of Saddam Hussein and his regime, he was utterly opposed to the American invasion of Iraq and spent the last two years of his life working on non-fiction projects to oppose what he saw as renewed imperialism.

Bibliography – Works in English[edit]

  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1987. Cities of Salt (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 1), New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-75526-X
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1991. The Trench (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 2), New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-57672-1
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1993. Variations on Night and Day (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 3), New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75551-9
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1998. Endings, London: Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-2651-5
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1998. Story of a City: A Childhood in Amman, London: Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-8023-4

Bibliography – Works in Arabic[edit]

Fiction

  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1973. Al-ashjar wa-ghtyal Marzuq الأشجار واغتيال مرزوق, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1974. Qissat hubb majusiyya قصّة حبّ مجوسية, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1975. Sharq al-Mutawassit شرق المتوسّط, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1976. Hina tarakna al-jisr حين تركنا الجسر, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1977. An-nihayat النهايات, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1979. Sibaq al-masafat at-tawila سباق المسافات الطويلة, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman & Jabra Ibrahim Jabra. 1982. Alam bi-la kharait عالم بلا خرائط, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1984. Mudun al-milh 1: Al-tih مدن الملح ١: التيه, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1985. Mudun al-milh 2: Al-ukhdud مدن الملح ٢: الأخدود, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1989. Mudun al-milh 3: Taqasim al-layl wan-nahar مدن الملح ٣: تقاسيم الليل والنهار, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1989. Mudun al-milh 4: Al-munbatt مدن الملح ٤: المنبتّ, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1989. Mudun al-milh 5: Badiyat az-zulmat مدن الملح ٥: بادية الظلمات, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1991. Al-an… huna, aw sharq al-Mutawassit marra ukhra الآن... هنا، أو شرق المتوسّط مرّة أخرى, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1999. Ard as-sawad 1–3 أرض السواد ١-٣, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 2005. Umm an-nudhur أمّ النذور, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.

Non-Fiction

  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1973. Mabda al-musharaka wa-tamin al-bitrul al-arabi مبدأ المشاركة وتأمين البترول العربي, Beirut: Dar al-awda.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1975. Al-bitrul al-arabi, musharaka aw at-tamin البترول العربي، مشاركة أو التأمين, Beirut.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1976. Tamin al-bitrul al-arabi تأمين البترول العربي, Baghdad.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1992. Al-katib wal-manfa – Humum wa-afaq ar-riwaya al-arabiyya الكاتب والمنفى – هموم وآفاق الرواية العربية, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1992. Ad-dimuqratiyya awwilan ad-dimuqratiyya daiman الديمقراطية أوّلاً الديمقراطية دائماً, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1994. Sirat madina – Amman fi l-arba'inat سيرة مدينة – عمّان في الأربعينات, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1998. Bayn ath-thaqafa was-siyasa بين الثقافة والسياسة, Casablanca: al-Markaz ath-Thaqafi al-Arabi.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 1998. Law'at al-ghiyab لوعة الغياب, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 2001. Rihlat daw رحلة ضوء, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.
  • Munif, Abdul Rahman. 2001. Dhakira lil-mustaqbal ذاكرة للمستقبل, Beirut: al-Muassasa al-Arabiyya lid-Dirasat wan-Nashr.

Obituary[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sakkut, Hamdi; Monroe, Roger. The Arabic novel. American Univ in Cairo Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-977-424-502-2. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Jiad, Abdul-Hadi (February 5, 2004). "Abdul-Rahman Mounif". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/munif.htm
  4. ^ Munif biography in Peter Theroux's translation – Abdelrahman Munif (1987). Cities of Salt. Translated by Peter Theroux. New York: Vinatage International. p. 629. ISBN 0-394-75526-X. 
  5. ^ Burt, Daniel S.; (2004). The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time. New York: Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-4558-5. 
  6. ^ http://www.al-bab.com/arab/literature/munif.htm

External links[edit]