May Telmissany

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May Telmissany (Arabic : مي التلمساني) is an Egyptian-Canadian novelist, translator, film critic and academic born in Cairo, Egypt, on 1 July 1965.[1] She now teaches Arabic studies and cinema at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


May Telmissany is the daughter of Egyptian documentary pioneer Abdel-Kader El-Telmissany (1924-2003). She studied French literature at Ain Shams University.[2] She worked for several years in the French Service of Radio Cairo and in the Arts Faculty at Menoufia University. She also lived for a time in Paris. In 1995, she obtained a Masters in French literature from Cairo University. She moved to Canada in 1998 for her doctoral studies, eventually completing her PhD in 2007 from the University of Montreal under a CIDA scholarship. She has since taught at the universities of Montréal, Concordia, McGill and Ottawa.[3]

Her first novel Dunyazad (1997) was critically acclaimed and translated into French, English, Spanish and German. Dunyazad won the 2002 Ulysses Prize for best first novel in France and the 2002 State Prize for best autobiographical novel in Egypt. Her second novel Heliopolis came out in 2001, and it was translated into French in 2002. In 2009, she published a collection of fragments on her experience in Canada and her successive returns to Egypt, titled Lel-Ganna Sour (The Paradise Has a Fence). In 2012, she published her third novel, A Capella.

Telmissany has also written on a wide range of scholarly interests, e.g. essays, articles and book chapters on cinema, photography, literature and Cairo culture. Along with Robert Solé and Mercédès Volait, she has co-edited a book of memoirs on the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. Her doctoral dissertation on the concept of neighbourhoods in Egyptian cinema has been translated into Arabic and published in Cairo. She has also done extensive translations from French and English to Arabic.

Literary works[edit]

  • 1995 : Repetitive Sculptures, Cairo: Dar Sharquiat (Short Stories in Arabic) 102 p.
  • 1999 : Mental Betrayals, Cairo: Cultural Palaces Publications (Short Stories in Arabic) 125 p.
  • 1997 : Doniazade, Cairo: Dar Sharquiat (Novel, 1st edition) 65 p.
  • 2001 : Dunyazad, Al-Adab, Beyrouth. (Novel, 2nd edition) 82 p. 1999-2000: Doniazade (Novel - translated into six European languages: French by Mona Latif-Ghattas, Paris: Actes Sud; English by Roger Allen, London: Saqi Books; Dutch by Djûke Poppinga, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Elmar; German by Hartmut Fähendrich, Basel: Lenos Verlag; Spanish by Gozalo Fernando Parillas and Catalan by Joana Hernandez).
  • 2003 : Heliopolis, Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organization. (Novel, 2nd edition) 167 p. 2002: Héliopolis, Paris: Actes-Sud (Novel, translated to French by Mona Latif-Ghattas) 150 p. 2000: Heliopolis, Cairo: Dar Sharquiat (Novel, 1st edition) 167 p.
  • 2009 : Lel Ganah Sour (The Paradise Has a Fence. Writings on Exile), Cairo: Dar Sharquiat, 164 p.
  • 2012 : A Capella, Cairo: Dar Sharquiat, 151 p.


  • 1991 - 1996 : Five literary books simplified for adolescent readers, published in the collection The Classics of World Literature, Cairo: General Book Organization.
  • 1994 : Trois Pièces de Théâtre (Fernando Arrabal), Cairo: Academy of the Arts Publications (translated in collaboration with Faten Anwar), 143p.
  • 1994 : Les Cinémas Arabes (Mouny Berrah), Cairo: General Book Organization, 219 p.
  • 1996 : Pratiques du Montage (Albert Jurgensen), Cairo: Academy of Arts Publications, 176 p.
  • 1997 : Reading Theatre I (Ann Ubersfeld), Cairo: Academy of Arts Publications, 225 p.
  • 2000 : Why Read the Classics? (Italo Calvino), Cairo : Organization of Cultural Palaces Publications, 153 p.
  • 2000 : Les Grandes Écoles Esthétiques (Alain and Odette Virmaux), Cairo : High Council of Culture Publications, 217 p.
  • 2005 : Momo et Loulou (Mona Latif-Ghattas & Lise Desjardins), Cairo: Dar El Nashr Horizons (in collaboration with Walid El Khachab), 107 p.
  • 2007 : Le livre ailé (Mona Latif-Ghattas), Cairo: Dar El Nashr Horizons, (Poetry), 70 p.


  1. ^ Profile in English PEN World Atlas Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "May Telmissany - Egyptian Writer مي التلمساني كاتبة مصرية". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  3. ^ Biographical details in author's website