‘Kalima’ unveils plans to publish anthology of Arab diaspora literature


The Kalima Translation Project at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), has announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with Pessoa, the largest online Portuguese-language magazine, to translate and publish an anthology of Brazilian literature in Arabic.

The anthology will include a number of works written in Portuguese by Brazilian writers of Arab descent.

The announcement was made at Frankfurt Book Fair, which is currently being held in Germany.

Diaspora literature is gaining popularity given the increased rates of migration to countries of the West and the North. These writers depict their experiences in foreign countries to which they were forced to emigrate due to the harsh conditions in their home countries.

Abdullah Majed Al Ali, Acting Executive Director of the National Library Sector at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “The anthology of diaspora literature in Brazil will introduce Arab readers to the human depth of the diaspora. Literature has always mirrored different societies and change, as well as the lives of authors.

“We are honoured to be able to continue our efforts with Kalima to serve as a bridge connecting the cultures of the world and to promote dialogue and understanding among people through translating influential titles that closely examine human experiences everywhere.”

Estimated at over 200 million, the majority of the Brazilian population is made up of people who migrated over the last 500 years, contributing significantly to shaping the history of modern-day Brazil. The Arab community in Brazil is the largest Arab community outside the Arab world with over 16 million Arabs playing a major role in driving Brazil’s cultural, educational, political and economic sectors.

Concluded in cooperation with the UAE Consulate in Brazil and supported by the Brazilian Arab Chamber of Commerce, the agreement between Kalima and Pessoa is part of the UAE’s desire to strengthen cultural relations between the UAE and São Paulo, as it is a favored destination for Arab expatriates in Latin America, and to build cultural bridges between Brazilian writers of Arab descent and the Arab world through Abu Dhabi.

The Brazilian literature anthology will include the writings of:

Milton Hatoum (born in Manaus, 1952): One of the most renowned contemporary Brazilian writers. He depicts a personal view of the history of Lebanese emigrants in Brazil. In his first novel, ‘A Tale of a Certain Orient’ (1990), Hatoum used the oral tradition techniques seen Middle Eastern literature. In 2000, he published his second novel, ‘The Brothers’, in 10 countries, followed by ‘Ashes of the Amazon’ in 2005.

Salim Miguel (born in Lebanon, 1924) is a prolific writer and editor who travelled to Brazil at the age of three. Published in 2008, his latest book, ‘A Light in the Darkness’, which was also published in Arabic, tells the story of his family’s migration from Lebanon to Santa Catarina, Brazil. His works also include The Best Stories, The Flavour of Hunger, The Submerged Voice, The First of April, and Reinventing Childhood.

Nélida Pinon (born in Rio de Janeiro, 1937): In her novel, ‘Voices of the Desert’, the Pinon tells the story of the world of Shahrazad, highlighting her strength. Her works also include The Founder, The House of Passion, The City of Greece, Thebes of my Heart, The Force of Destiny, and The Republic of Dreams.

Alberto Mussa (born in Rio de Janeiro, 1961): As Mussa dedicated himself to translation and research projects on the Arab world, his strong fascination with pre-Islamic poetry can be seen across his works. His most notable works include The Qaf’s Riddle (2004), Queen Jinga’s Throne (1999) and The First Story in World History.

Michel Sleiman is the author of the poetry anthology ‘The Art of Zajal’ (2009). Apart from publishing studies on Arabic poetry, he also translated many poems by Syrian poet Adonis into Portuguese. Sleiman previously served as a professor at the University of São Paulo, as well as Director of the Institute of Arab Culture. His works also include ‘Andalusian Arabic Poetry’.

Radwan Nassar (born in Sao Paulo, 1935): Born into a family Lebanese emigrants, Nassar went on to win the 2016 Camões Prize for literature. His most celebrated works are The Ancient Village (1975) and A Cup of Rage (1978), while his other works include Ancient Farming, A Cup of Cholera and Girl on the Way.

Luciana Savage (born in Rio de Janeiro) is a journalist and writer of children’s books. She has received many awards, including being named ‘Personality of the International Year’ by the Child Brazilian Writer’s Guild. Published in Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Cuba and Palestine, she has written several books, including Operation Rescue in Palestine, Rescue Operation in Jordan, Operation Rescue in Baghdad, The Hinterland of Councillor Anthony, and Mystery Story from Peru.

Marco Lucchesi (born in Rio de Janeiro, 1963) is a poet, writer, fiction writer and translator, who have mastered 20 languages including Arabic.

In his books, Longing for Paradise and The Eyes of the Desert, he writes about Arabic, which he considers the language of expressive words and direct examples. His works include The Memory of Ulysses, The Gift of Crime and The Beloved’s Shadow.

Whisner Fraga (born in Minas Gerais, 1971): His latest book, Abismo Poente (West Abyss), which was praised by distinguished writers such as Milton Hatoum and Moacyr Scliar, comprises a collection of short stories about Lebanese emigrants who settled in Minas Gerais.

Moema de Castro e Silva Olival (born in Guayas, 1932) is a non-Arab literary scholar influenced by Arabic literature produced in Brazil. Her book, Brazilian Literature and Arab Culture, offers explores the impact of Arab customs, especially in Lebanon, on novels, poems and articles written by Brazilians of Arab descent. Her works also include ‘A Space for Criticism: A Current Panorama’ and ‘A Breeze of Renewal in Guayas’.

Carlos Najjar (born in Porto Alegre, 1939) is a renowned poet, translator and critic. He published The Book of Silbione, Homeland is the Heart and Letter to the Insane and The Living Survivors.



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