A Classic Arabic Novella

Most novellas are either lighthearted or extremely potent, like a shot of vodka swallowed in a gulp. I’ve just finished one of the hundred-proof variety and I’m knocked flat out. My research tells me that Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani is a classic of Arab literature and that its author is right up…

Bear With Me — A Soldier’s Tale

As far as reading goes, we all have our guilty pleasures. Now I’ll admit mine — I’m nuts about animals. If it’s cute and furry, just pass the book this way. Only this time I think I’ve met my match with a true tale about a bear that’s not only incredibly endearing, brave, and kind-hearted…

New Brooms

Here is a metaphor to delight a storyteller’s heart: a new broom sweeps clean. Egypt, as we all know, has been full of new brooms as its youth rose up to sweep away a thirty year-old dictatorship. Revolution is a modern story, one to which we can supply a few anxious beginnings and tragic endings.…

Paul Almond’s The Deserter

I love reading all sorts of books, but I usually draw the line on  stories that feature any of the stereotypes of North American history: naval combat, redcoats, settlers fighting Indians, roughneck sailors and lumberjacks — you get the picture. So you might imagine my consternation when I had a look at Paul Almond’s debut…