Commentary on “At the Tea Vendor’s” by Milagros Oregui Navarrete

Mare Nostrum

I am going to analyze the story “At the Tea Vendor’s” from a psychoanalytical perspective, because that is my field of expertise. I think that this story tackles the issue of how much we can afford to challenge the norm and survive as individuals. I believe this to be an important topic because the suppression of individuality can stir up feelings of loss, which, in turn, can cause psychological pain.

I think that this story is revolutionary in that it exposes the human urges that prompt us to contravene the societal norms that we have ingrained in our minds. I understood the place where the main character sits down to drink tea as a representation of the mire of melancholy in which we are doomed to gradually sink when we feel abandoned.

This Sudanese author invites us to listen to what the undertones of our own stories are telling us, to admit the responsibility we have for the way our future plays out. It is the sense of guilt over not having done enough to become someone else and be somewhere ...Read more

Literary Commentary on the Story “At the Tea Vendor’s”

Nel mezzo del cammin

After reading the finalists’ stories, I sat down to write my first impressions of them in order to determine which had exerted a greater impact on me. When I finished, I had a feeling that I had skipped one, and after rereading my reviews, I realized that one of the stories I had only hinted at in passing at the very beginning, mentioning that I hadn’t grasped its gist. It was the one called “At the Tea Vendor’s.” I suddenly latched onto the fact that the story had left me feeling the same way the main characters are described feeling in the story.

The characters are presented sitting in a square and availing themselves of just a few words to exchange thoughts. They aren’t exactly able to rock each others’ worlds with what they have to say to one another, but they seem to be able to successfully communicate or at least provide their respective interlocutors with a vague and fleeting impression of what they want to express, the kind of impression we ...Read more

Literary Analysis of the Story “Chaouen, 1936”, Submitted to the Literary Contest “Two Thousand Nights and Awakening”

I believe that “Chaouen, 1936” is a story that says far more than what appears on the surface. It describes ancient cities and their rich architectural heritage, and celebrates the strength of earlier generations, who built their houses with their own hands along mountain slopes. It also chronicles a life of panhandling, amid the poverty, starvation and despair of the generations that followed. It reveals the profitable business of war, the exploitation of people in despair, the seditious groups who switch sides, and the iniquity of those whose only purpose in life is to crush the dreams of others.

The author has chosen an erudite narrator to tell the story, who shifts topics fluidly. For instance, after recounting what is happening as the main character flees, he moves inside his head, without interrupting the narrative flow. The author doesn’t explain to us why the main character is being chased by two men, nor does he reveal any of their identities. He doesn’t need to, because he offers enough hints in the main character’s internal speech and in the storyline’s events ...Read more

On the Constraints the Arabic Language Imposes on Arabic Literature Writers

The Exact Spot Where We Pitched Camp Yesterday

The Exact Spot Where We Pitched Camp Yesterday

 

It’s been one helluva ride. Whenever I tell people that I translate Arabic literature, I know they’re wondering, Is that even a thing?

Well, kinda. And there are probably several reasons for the world’s reluctance to translate literature written in Arabic. In this post, I will try to uncover some of those reasons.

First, I am going to explain how the way people answer the age-old chicken-or-egg question of “What came first, language or reality?” depends mainly on the language with which they’ve been raised. In other words, I am going to expound on how language determines how we accept reality. Next, I am going to focus on the structure of the Arabic language to try and prove my theory that the way the language works influences the way Arabic speakers write when creating literature. My hypothesis is that, due to its inner structure (which, in my opinion, doesn’t equip Arabic speakers for acknowledging the indispensable figure of the third party—the arbitrator), the Arabic language makes the idea ...Read more

Why “Palestine”?

rsz_handhala-1024x789
Naji Al-Ali‘s cartoon

Hot topic, we know. Since we didn’t want to give resentments a chance to fester as you perused the exposition of our opinions while looking to us to confirm your own convictions, we have chosen not to defer the announcement of our disappointing news. The Arabian Stories team won’t be taking a stance on the political situation concerning the area. However, since one cannot avoid making decisions in life, and given that the situation starts to get ugly sooner rather than later if the choices one makes are not founded on criteria one can lay out in syntactically coherent pieces, the Arabian Stories team will try to explain why we have admitted stories involving places that, under international law, currently belong to the state of Israel, which is not considered part of the Arab World.

As this is a linguistic and literary project, we have adopted linguistic criteria. Arabic is the second official language in Israel and, for better or worse, the percentage of Arabic speakers who refer to Israel and the territories comprised within its borders with an Arabic ...Read more