Friday, September 19, 2008

EVENT: Remembering Mahmoud Darwish ...

On 9 August 2008, the Arab world lost one of its greatest contemporary writers: Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

Described as the laureate of all Arabs, Mahmoud Darwish published over 30 volumes of poetry and eight books of prose. His work, translated in 35 languages, won numerous awards including the prestigious Prince Claus Award in 2004.

To celebrate the life and work of this great literary figure, Cultural Media in association with the NSW Writers’ Centre is hosting a special memorial event. The event will take place on Friday 3 October 2008 (6:00pm for 6:30pm start) at the NSW Writers’ Centre, Callan Park, Balmain Road, Rozelle. The evening will include keynote speakers and live cultural performances. To RSVP, please contact Cultural Media on email: by 30 September 2008.

Cultural Media is a not for profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of Arab arts and culture in an Australian context. Cultural Media’s mission is to ultimately strengthen intercultural understanding and relations between diverse Australian communities. For more information about Cultural Media, please visit here.

The NSW Writers' Centre, established in 1991, promotes writing-based culture and the rights and interests of writers. For more information about the Writers’ Centre, please click here.

You can read an obituary of Mahmoud darwish here.

EVENT: Launch of Randa Abdel-Fattah's new book ...

Sydney-based lawyer and award-winning Australian author Randa Abdel-Fattah is launching her new book entitled Where The Streets Have A Name on Tuesday October 7 2008 at gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe.

This is Randa's third novel. Her first novel, Does My Head Look Big In This, has been a huge hit both in Australia and Europe. You can read a review of this book published by a UK newspaper here. Randa followed this up with Ten things i hate about me, which in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers. Notwithstanding Randa's novels are written largely for a young female audience, I must admit I know at least one male Sydney-based lawyer who has read and thoroughly enjoyed Randa's novels.

You can read interviews with Randa here, here and here.

Apart from lawyering and writing, Randa is also a human rights activist. You can read a speech she delivered on behalf of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign here.

Here's how Randa describes her third book ...
It’s about a girl and her journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. It’s an illegal journey because Palestinians aren’t allowed to travel freely. She goes to get some soil from her grandmother’s home, put in it a jar and bring it back to her grandmother who is sick. It tells of the massive upheaval and devastating impact this has in her life. I always knew I wanted to write a book about Palestine so it’s been a real challenge and an amazing journey for me ...

I used a lot of my own experiences but it was far more a work of fiction than my first two books. A lot of the instances of encounters between soldiers and Palestinians were based on documented cases. I spoke to so many people that lived there, escaped from there or had been kicked out ...

I’m at the crossroads now where I have to make a decision. One of the problems that I have encountered is that people typecast you as a Muslim writer. Unfortunately, to become more mainstream you have to write using Anglo characters because as soon as you don’t it becomes a niche market, a token multiculturalism. To say that this is a specialist book totally overlooks the message. These are Australian girls and their experiences are just as Aussie as others.
For more information about the launch and to book your seat, click here. But be quick!

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf