Archives: Members

At the Cairo Book Fair

“Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, and Baghdad reads,” goes the adage. At the Cairo International Book Fair, where hundreds of publishers and thousands of readers gather each winter, everybody writes, publishes, and reads.

While the sclerotic institutions of state-funded culture remain conservative forces with an outsized role in Egyptian letters, independent publishers continue to push the limits and introduce new voices from within and without the Arab region. At the fair, you can find the latest catalogues of free presses from across the Arab and Muslim world, periodicals from a century ago, or quirky delights like contemporary children’s books from Syria or Yemen—that is, if you can find your way around the colossal fairgrounds. Since there is no map or guide—at least not one that’s of any use—let me give you a tour.
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The (Dis)Harmonies of Islam

Like any other spiritual or human endeavor, Islam is a plurality resounding in harmonies and, at times, disharmonies. I began learning about this faith and its people as a college freshman in 2001. As a journalism student at the University of Missouri, I was asked to reflect critically on media packages that paired footage of the terror attacks with …

Leading the Way: Reflections on Women’s Leadership in Nigeria

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”                                                                   …

At Last, Alexandria

One “is either a Cairo person—Arab, Islamic, serious, international, intellectual—or an Alexandria amateur—Levantine, cosmopolitan, devious, and capricious,” the scholar Edward Said once wrote.[1] I must be both. Over the past decade, I have had a love affair with Alexandria. Exit from the train station, and pop into a little toy taxi, a Russian-made …

A Bright Spot in an Otherwise Darkened Egypt

In The Art Newspaper, Fellow Jonathan Guyer reviews Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla’s new show “On the Silk Road.” The 60 mixed-media works are inspired by fairy tales and mythology, and exhibited at the ministry of culture’s premier space. In his review, Guyer situates Abla’s practice within the broader politics of art in Egypt …

A Coast with No Water

All I can see are breaking waves. I stand up on the lazarette and lean onto the dodger to steady the binoculars. There is supposed to be a channel clearly marked with lighted buoys, our first entrance to Nicaragua. We left Honduras early and had a favorable current pushing us south from the Gulf of Fonseca, but we had planned to arrive at dark and use …

Reinvent the Wheel

One of the highest-ranked schools in America today, Horace Mann in the Bronx, is named after one of the early advocates for “common schooling” — the notion that we should pool our money to fund institutions of education that all children attend. These days, the school carrying his namesake charges an annual tuition of $43,300, which is just over …