Some people have asked about Arabic science fiction, so I’m starting a list of titles here. Please feel free to tell me of others…
- Rabee Jaber of Lebanon has a book available only in Arabic, كنتُ أميرً / I Used to Be a Prince, inspired largely by the tale The Frog Prince.
- Algerian Amar Boukhroufa, pen name Djamel Jiji, has a novel published in French. It’s translated from Arabic (which is unpublished thus far). The author gave me a copy of the Arabic, and I look forward to reading it some day!
- Books by Ahmed Salah Al Mahdi, and see his website
- Future Files series by Egyptian Nabil Farouk – I would recommend his book “Tamima” to young adult readers
- إكسير الحياة / The Elixir of Life by Moroccan Mohammed Aziz El-Habbani
- الطوفان الأزرق / The Blue Deluge and other books by Moroccan Ahmed Abd El-Salam El-Baqqali – He writes for young adults, and his writing has been compared to Jules Verne and Ralph Ellison.
- مجرد حلم / Just a Dream by Moroccan Abd El-Rahim Buhayr – treats social and political issues
- السيد من حقل السبانخ / The Guy from the Spinach Field – futuristic novel about state politics, freedom, and illusions of freedom
- اجوان trilogy by Noura Noman – see this discussion and interview
- For a combination of Arabic culture and Sci Fi fandom, see the work of Sophia Al-Maria, who coined the term ‘Gulf Futurism’. I have a brief review of her book, The Girl Who Fell to Earth.
- Here are a couple “supernatural” story collections… The Square Moon: Supernatural Tales (Arabic Translation Award and The Seventh Heaven: Supernatural Tales
- Throne of the Crescent Moon – not written in Arabic, but may be of interest to readers (it was to me!)
My Review: I liked the first and last chapters. The rest was bizarre and/or rambling. Jaber is a talented writer, but I prefer a more focused plot and more developed characters. That said, this book is remarkable for its use of a fairytale / folktale for part of its inspiration. Based on the tale The Frog Prince, the first and last chapters form a sort of frame story. It has nice parallels to two other famous pieces literature: 1) The Thousand and One Nights / ألف ليلة وليلة in that the prince is like the king, Shahrayar (they have almost the same fear), and 2) Beauty and the Beast in that the prince receives the same curse / عقابة. Finally, the ending has a surprise twist for readers familiar with The Frog Prince. Altogether, the first and last chapter provide a pleasantly refreshing Arabic contribution to folklore-inspired fantasy.
art: ‘Warrior’ by Matt Leines
- A True Story: Parallel English and Greek by Lucien de Samosate, the Syrian, who was born in the 2nd century when eastern Turkey was part of Syria, and whose tale A True Story concerned a voyage to the Moon: he was therefore one of the early proto-SF authors.
- The story “Jullanar” in 1001 Nights (which tells a mermaid tale – one of my personal favorites).
- The Time Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets ( رحلات الطرشجي الحلوجي) by Egyptian Khairy Shalaby, translated to English by Michael Cooperson