Beirut has for years been the epicenter of the literary world in the Middle East. The city of beauty and destruction, as it is often called, has inspired numerous Arab and Western writers. During Moussem Cities: Beirut we introduce you to three exceptional writers whose life and work has been strongly influenced by their relationship with Beirut.
The award-winning writer Hoda Barakat is staying eight weeks in Brussels upon the invitation of Passa Porta and Moussem Nomadic Arts Centre. During her residency, she speaks with Arabic-Dutch translators during a Found in Translation at Passa Porta. At this literary evening in BOZAR she will be joined by Iman Humaydan and Elias Khoury. The writers read from their own work and talk about the influence of the city on their writing. An evening at the intersection of literature and politics.
Hoda Barakat (º1952) is a Lebanese author of novels, short stories and plays. She is listed as one of the most original voices in contemporary Arab Literature. Barakat studied French literature in Beirut and worked as a teacher, translator and journalist. She has been living and working in Paris since 1989. Hoda Barakat debuted in 1985 with the collection of short stories Al-Tha'irat (The Rebels). Her work has won several international awards, including the Naguib Mahfouz Medal. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Her work has been translated into Dutch, English, French and Spanish.
Iman Humaydan (º1956) is a Lebanese journalist and writer of novels, short stories and screenplays. She writes regularly for Lebanese and Arab newspapers and cultural magazines. Humaydan studied sociology and anthropology at the American University in Beirut. Today she gives lectures at various European and American universities on the Middle East and the rights of Arab women. She teaches creative writing workshops in English and Arabic. In 2008, she founded ARRAWI, a nonprofit organization that supports Lebanese culture and talent. In 2012, she was one of the founding members of PEN Lebanon, an international writers association that advocates freedom of expression and offers help to persecuted writers. She lives alternately in Beirut and Paris.
Elias Khoury (º1948) is a monument in Lebanon and beyond. He is considered one of the sharpest critics and observers of a region of conflict. His roots lie in the Christian district of East Beirut, where he lives to this day in the home of his great-grandfather. This socially engaged and perceptive critic and avant-garde writer has since the 70s unmistakably placed his mark on Arabic literature. His oeuvre includes eleven novels, four nonfiction books, three plays and a film script.