‘Perception of Meaning’: At the Boundary of Arabic Poetry and Apocalypse

From the Arabic Literature (in English) blog


11066614_10153300487036995_1902174752711326208_nLast November,
The Perception of Meaning was chosen as a co-winner of the University of Arkansas Award for the Translation of Arabic Literature; now a bilingual edition of the book by Hisham Bustani, trans. Thoraya El-Rayyes, is coming from Syracuse University Press this fall: 

The two of them — author and translator — talk with ArabLit about process, influence, genre, boundaries, translational acts, and even the teaching of Arabic literature (in English).

Okay, ultimately the text is the text, whatever we call it. But why do you call this “flash fiction” instead of a “collection of poetry”?

Hisham Bustani: I am a writer of prose; of the short form in particular. This is how I define myself and my writing. But I am not at all supportive of boundaries between literary genres. I cross these boundaries regularly. In this collection and some earlier works, it was the boundary with poetry; in my fourth collection, a prominent critic was of the opinion that I was using multiple voices inside the short form, which is one of the main techniques of the novel — thus crossing that boundary. Also, I’ve always been of the opinion that poetry and short fiction, especially flash fiction, are of close kinship, and that short fiction and the novel, although both prose, are very distant relatives.

Read the full interview…