Edwar al-Kharrat

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Edwar al-Kharrat (Arabic: ادوار الخراط) (born 16 March 1926) is an Egyptian novelist, writer and critic.[1] He was born in Alexandria to a Coptic Christian family. He studied law at Alexandria University and worked briefly in banking and insurance. He was also actively engaged in left-wing politics and spent two years in jail from 1948–50. He moved to Cairo in the mid-1950s where he worked for a time as a translator at the Romanian embassy.[2]

Al-Kharrat has been described as "one of Egypt's most influential fiction writers"[3] and "one of the most important writers in the Arab world".[4] He was a leading figure among the group of Egyptian writers known as the Sixties Generation, and founded and edited the literary journal Gallery 68, considered to be the mouthpiece of that generation.[5] In this role, al-Kharrat promoted and disseminated the works of such writers as Sonallah Ibrahim, Bahaa Taher, Ibrahim Aslan, Yahya Taher Abdullah, and Gamal al-Ghitani. He also had a lengthy association with the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) and the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, and edited Lotus, a journal of African and Arabic literature.

As a writer, his first book was a collection of short stories called High Walls, published in 1958/59. Two more volumes of stories came out in the 1970s. Also in 1979, his first novel Rama and the Dragon was published to widespread critical acclaim. A "daringly experimental" work, Rama has been called "a breakthrough for the Arab novel".[6] Al-Kharrat himself described the novel as "untranslatable", although an English translation was completed by Ferial Ghazoul and John Verlenden and published by the AUC Press in 2002 after winning the 1999 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.[7][8] The Arab Writers Union ranked Rama at 8th in its list of the 100 best Arabic novels.[9]

Al-Kharrat has also translated a number of foreign literary works into Arabic, including Tolstoy's War and Peace. He has won several prestigious literary awards including the Sultan al-Owais Prize and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal. He was invited to St Antony's College, Oxford in 1979 as a visiting scholar and has participated in numerous cultural festivals, including the London Literature Festival in 1999.

Selected works[edit]

  • Rama and the Dragon, translated by Ferial Ghazoul and John Verlenden
  • City of Saffron, translated by Frances Liardet
  • Girls of Alexandria, translated by Frances Liardet
  • Stones of Bobello, translated by Paul Starkey

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Profile in the English PEN World Atlas. Penatlas.org (2008-06-09). Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  2. ^ Profile in Arab World Books. Arabworldbooks.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  3. ^ "Edwar Al-Kharrat: poet of the Arabic novel", Al-Ahram Weekly, 28 Feb-5 Mar 2008. Weekly.ahram.org.eg (2008-03-05). Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  4. ^ "Edwar al-Kharrat and the Modernist Revolution in the Egyptian Novel". Aljadid. (Vol. 2, no. 9, July 1996) Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  5. ^ ''The Arabic Novel'' by Hamdi Sakkut, translated by Roger Monroe, AUC Press, Cairo, Egypt, 2000, p.45. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  6. ^ ''Al-Jadid'', 1996. Aljadid.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  7. ^ "Selections - Edwar el-Kharrat". Banipal. Retrieved 2011-07-21. "Twenty years later his first novel Ramah wal Tinneen (Ramah and the Dragon) was published. Now considered a classic, it is, according to the author “untranslatable”." 
  8. ^ ''Rama and the Dragon'', English translation by AUC Press, 2002. Aucpress.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-13.
  9. ^ The Best 100 Arabic Books (According to the Arab Writers Union). Arablit.wordpress.com (2010-04-23). Retrieved on 2011-07-13.