Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finest writings from the Middle East on contemporary issues "Tablet & Pen" is a literary masterpiece collection

Bookmark and Share

"Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East" is the perfect book to take with you on a vacation and relax and read through the collection of essays, either in order or selectively by title and topic. The book has 139 essays that address a chronological breakdown of Middle Eastern time periods. The 1910 to 1950, 1950 to 1980 and 1980 until today. Each is further broken up in to more selective decades that add real context to the writings.

Some of the essays in the anthology are well known and others are lesser known but powerful. It's an inspirational collection that gives you some real insight into the Middle East, the Arab mind and the Muslim World. It's a mix of Arab and non-Arab writings, mostly Muslim focused.

You could read it straight through as the writing talent is remarkable, of course. Or, you can do as I did and slowly pick and choose through the essays, re-reading many without boredom. The stories and tales are captivating and run the gamut from Palestine to Persia, Pakistan and Turkey. You get a sense of a common thread that rises above the religion, though, offering real insight in to everyday lives in each era.

This is one you will not want to rush through. You can read through it with interest driven by the detail and the eloquent writing styles of many of the essay authors. Much of the writing is translated from the native languages (Arabic, Turkish, Persian). Essays include writings by Khalil Gibran, Muhammad Iqbal, Forugh Farrokhzad, Yasar Kemal, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Ahmad Shmaloo and Orhan Pamuk.

Edited by Reza Aslan, published by Norton & Co. in New York and London. 2011. 658 pp.

-- Ray Hanania

Joe Avesar, Israeli-Palestinian Confederation co-founder releases book

Bookmark and Share

Joe Avesar has been an activist for peace since his childhood when an Arab fisherman saved his sister from drowning. Avesar is no a co-founder of the Palestinian-Israeli Confederation movement which has a large presence in Israel, Palestine and on Facebook.

Avesar has detailed the principles of confederation in his new book "Peace: A Case for an Israeli Palestinian Confederation" (126 pp, Damasaja Publishing, CA).

The book argues mainly about peace but also how a confederation can make the current Middle East peace failures turn in to a reality.

It's well written and easy to read. And when you are done, it restores your belief that peace is possible; so many Palestinians and Israelis, these days, are fighting against the idea of peace, believing instead of conquest or victory. The idea of compromise has lost much of its luster and many who support peace, tragically, have lost the will to believe.

Avesar's book offers an impetus to believe again and it provides clean, clear and reasoned logic to kickstart a new initiative and get people to think out of the box.

-- Ray Hanania