May 17, 2022, 10:00 am - May 18, 2022, 6:00 pm


Zoom Webinar

Click the Playlist button in the upper-left corner to select other panel videos.

About the Festival
The Middle East Institute’s Arts and Culture Center and The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation in partnership with the Cheuse Center for International Writers at George Mason University present a two-day, virtual literature festival featuring writers and poets from the Middle East. Panels explore the works and experiences of leading and emerging Arab authors and poets and the challenges of publishing and translating works from the Middle East.

Day 1 Agenda

Introduction and Opening Keynote Remarks
Rabih Alameddine

Lebanon-US, Winner of the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, The Wrong End of the Telescope, 2021. 

Arab Fiction Now & the Challenges of Writing in and about the Region
This panel of leading regional and diaspora authors will discuss the inspiration for their most recent novels and the social, cultural and political context informing their work.  The panel will also explore the challenges that Arab writers in the region and its diaspora face as they reflect on societies dealing with globalization, trauma, gender, sexuality and identity.  

Ahmed Naji 
Egypt, Using Life, 2017

Zaina Arafat
US-Palestine, You Exist Too Much, 2021 Lambda Literary Award

Rasha Abbas 
Syria-Germany, The Gist of It, 2019

Matthew Davis, moderator
Founding director of the Cheuse International Writers Center at George Mason University and Assistant Professor Creative Writing George Mason University. 

Modern Poetry in the Arab World
This panel features Arab poets who will share their poems in English and the vision that drives their inspiration.

Nujoom al Ghannem
UAE, Asqoto fi Nafsi (I Fall into Myself), 2012

Zeina Hashem Beck
Lebanon, Author, "O", ( forthcoming in July 2022)

Dunya Mikhail
Iraq-US, In Her Feminine Sign, 2019

Nathalie Handal, moderator
Palestine-USA-France, poet, playwright, translator

Day 2 Agenda

Growing a Literary Landscape
This panel brings together voices from the Arab world’s publishing and translation sectors, as well as leading figures behind literary prizes and book fairs, to discuss how to grow the Arab World’s literary infrastructure and audiences. 

Kareem James Abu Zeid 
Translator ("Exhausted on the Cross" by Najwan Darwish, 2021), editor, and writer

Isobel Abulhol 
Trustee of The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation & founding director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Chris Merrill
Director, the International Writing Program, University of Iowa

Lisette Jaquette, moderator 
Translator and Executive Director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)

Promoting Contemporary Arab Literature
The panel will look at platforms that have been instrumental in promoting and supporting contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa and the role they have in opening new and different conversations about the Middle East from the lens of literature.

Yasmina Jraisati 
Founder, RAYA | agency for Arabic literature

Susan Harris 
Editorial director, Words Without Borders

Marcia Lynx Qualey 
Editor, translator, critic and founder, 'ArabLit' website; Winner, 2017 London Book Fair prize. She also publishes ArabLit Quarterly magazine and is co-host of the popular BULAQ podcast

Lana Barkawi 
Executive and artistic director of Mizna, a nonprofit platform for contemporary literature, film, art, and cultural production centering the work of Southwest Asian and North African creatives. She also publishes the award-winning journal, Mizna: SWANA Lit + Art.

Ursula Lindsey, moderator
Journalist and book critic, Lindsey writes about culture, education, and politics in the Arab world. She has written for The New York Times, The Economist, The Nation magazine, and the New York Review of Books, among others. She is based in Amman, Jordan.

Closing Hybrid Event: Poetry Reading and Reception
An in-person (by invitation only) and live streamed event held at the Middle East Institute, featuring poetry reading by Zeina Azzam.

Zeina Azzam 
Palestinian-American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. She is currently the Poet Laureate of the City of Alexandria, Virginia

Dr. Mariam Gomaa 
Physician and writer. Author of Between the Shadow & the Soul