The Gifts of Movement | Transformative Migrations in the Digital Age: Saïd Khatibi and Amara Lakhous in conversation with Ammiel Alcalay
Saïd Khatibi is a novelist, travel writer, translator, and cultural journalist, born in 1984 in Bou Saâda, Algeria. He writes in Arabic and French and translates between both. He has a BA in French Literature from the University of Algiers and an MA in Cultural Studies from the Sorbonne. Sarajevo Firewood is his third novel in Arabic (and first in English translation), and was shortlisted for the 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. His other novels are Kitab al-Khataya (Book of Errors), Editions ANEP, 2013, and Forty Years Waiting for Isabelle, 2016, about the real-life Swiss traveler Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), for which he won the 2017 Katara Award for the Novel. He has a travel book about the Balkans, The Inflamed Gardens of the East, 2015, and has written extensively on raï music, including a book (Wedding Fire, 2010) that tells its story. He lives in Slovenia.
Amara Lakhous was born in Algeria in 1970. He moved to Italy in 1995. He has a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers and another in Humanities from the University of Rome, La Sapienza where he completed a Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Living Islam as a Minority.” He is the author of five novels, three of which were written in both Arabic and Italian. His best known works are the much acclaimed Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), Divorce Islamic Style (2012), A Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet (2014), and The Prank of the Good Little Virgin in Via Ormea (2016). His latest novel in Arabic, Tir al-lil (The Night Bird), was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, 2021. His novels have been translated from Italian into many languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Danish and Persian. Lakhous has been awarded, among others, the Flaiano Prize in Italy in 2006 and the Algerians Booksellers Prize in 2008. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio has been adapted into a movie by the Italian director Isotta Toso in 2010 and many theater productions. It was chosen for the 2014 New Student Reading Project at Cornell University. Lakhous moved to New York City in August of 2014 and is currently teaching in the Italian Department of New York University.
Poet, novelist, translator, critic, and scholar Ammiel Alcalay teaches at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His books include After Jews and Arabs, Memories of Our Future, Islanders, neither wit nor gold: from then, from the warring factions, and a little history. Recent books include the co-edited A Dove in Flight: Poems by Faraj Bayrakdar, with Shareah Taleghani and the New York Translation Collective; a poem sequence, Ghost Talk, and A Bibliography for After Jews & Arabs. He has written and been active on the question of Palestine for decades and, during the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, he was one of the main conduits for translations from Bosnia. He is a contributing editor of The Markaz Review and was given a 2017 American Book Award from The Before Columbus Foundation for his work as founder and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative.
Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, and Resistance, launched by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, is a research collective and lecture series co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and housed at the newly launched Initiative on Race and Resilience, directed by Mark Sanders, Professor of English and Africana Studies. The series focuses on contemporary literature, film, and visual art that has been shaped by revolutionary and resistance movements, decolonization, migration, class and economic warfare, communal and state-sanctioned violence, and human rights violations. We aim to theorize new modes of contemporary literary and artistic resistance across national borders and to amplify the voices of scholars, artists, and writers of color whose lived experience is instrumental in forging new alliances across formal, linguistic and national boundaries.
Originally published at litofexile.nd.edu.