Ibrahim Aslan (1935 – 7 January 2012) (Arabic: إبراهيم أصلان) was an Egyptian novelist and short story writer.
Life and work
Aslan was born in Tanta in the Nile delta in 1935, shortly before his family moved south to Cairo. His father was a Post Office employee, and Aslan too went on to work for the Cairo Post Office. The Cairene neighbourhoods of Imbaba and Kit Kat, where he lived and worked, are closely associated with his oeuvre.
Aslan emerged on the Arab literary scene in the mid-1960s, and is considered to be part of the movement known as the Sixties Generation which also included such authors as Gamal Ghitany, Sonallah Ibrahim, and Abdel Hakim Qasem. The avant-garde literary magazine Gallery 68 published eight of his stories during its short life.
Aslan published two volumes of short stories, three novels, and two volumes of non-fiction during a literary career spanning more than four decades. His first collection of short stories, called Buhayrat al-Masah (The Evening Lake), was released in 1971-72. A second collection called Youssef wal-Rida (Joseph and the Clothes) was published in 1987.
Aslan is best known for his first novel Malek al-Hazin (1983), translated by Elliott Colla under the English title The Heron; and its sequel 16 years later called As-safir al-Nil (1999), translated as Nile Sparrows by Mona El-Ghobashy. The Heron was selected as one of the top 100 Arabic novels by the Arab Writers Union and is his most famous work. The Heron was turned into an award-winning film (The Kit Kat, 1991) by leading Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayed. More recently, Magdi Ahmed Ali directed a film version under the title Birds of the Nile (2009).
Aslan won a number of literary prizes, including the Taha Hussein Award from the University of Minya in 1989 and the Egyptian State Incentive Prize in 2003-2004. Most recently, he won the 2006 Sawiris Prize for his book Hikayat min Fadlallah Uthman (Stories from Fadlallah Uthman).
Since 1992, Aslan had been famous culture editor at the Cairo bureau of the London-based al-Hayat newspaper.
Haydar Haydar controversy
In the summer of 2000, Aslan and fellow writer Hamdi Abu Golail were subjected to a lawsuit by a maverick Islamist lawyer following a campaign of agitation by the newspaper Al-Shaab. In their capacity as editors of Afaq al-Kitaba (Horizons of Literature), a series of modern Arabic classics published under the aegis of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, Aslan and Abu Golail had decided to reprint A Banquet for Seaweed, a controversial novel by the Syrian writer Haydar Haydar.
- Buhayrat al-Misa’ (Evening Lake) (short stories, 1971-2)
- Yusuf wa al-Rida’ (Yusuf and the Dress) (short stories, 1986-7)
- Malek al-Hazin (The Heron) (novel, 1983, English translation by Elliott Colla, AUC Press)
- Wardiyat Layl (Night Shift) (novella, 1991)
- Asafir al-Nil (Nile Sparrows) (novel, 1999, English translation by Mona El-Ghobashy, AUC Press)
- Hikayat min Fadlallah Uthman (Stories from Fadlallah Uthman) (short stories, 2003)
- Khulwat al-Ghalban (Poor Man's Hermitage) (non-fiction, 2003)
- Shay’un Min Hadha al-Qabil (Something Like That) (non-fiction, 2007)
- Hugratan wa Salah: Mutataliya Manziliyya (Two Rooms and a Hall: A Household Sequence) (2010)
- Profile in Banipal website
- Al-Ahram review of French translation of Wardiyat Layl, June 2000 Archived 13 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Goodbye Ibrahim Aslan", M. Lynx Qualey, Egypt Independent, Jan 8, 2012 Archived 9 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Literature, journalism and the avant-garde: intersection in Egypt by Elisabeth Kendall, 2006, p. 234
- "Birds of the Nile", The Arabist blog, November 2009
- Collection of reports by Al-Ahram on the controversy, May 2000 Archived 21 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Report in The Estimate, June 2000 Archived 15 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
- "The Old Man and the River" - Al-Ahram interview of Ibrahim Aslan, May 2010
- "The Art of Ibrahim Aslan", Baheyya blog, August 2007
- "Rest in Peace, Ibrahim Aslan", Arablit blog, January 2012
- "Before the Law" - interview with Ibrahim Aslan by Youssef Rakha during Haydar Haydar controversy, May 2000
- Zuzana Kratka reviews The Heron and Nile Sparrows in Banipal magazine, 2006