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PUBLISHER: Margaret Obank EDITOR: Samuel Shimon FRONT COVER: Mediterranean shore, Benghazi
Photograph by Ismail Hasso
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fadhil al-Azzawi, Sinan Antoon, Issa J Boullata, Peter Clark, Imad Khachan, Khaled Mattawa, Anton Shammas, Paul Starkey, Mona Zaki, CONSULTING EDITORS Etel Adnan, Roger Allen, Mohammed Bennis, Gamal al-Ghitani, Marilyn Hacker, Erdmute Heller, Herbert Mason, Hassan Najmi, Saif al-Rahbi, Yasir Suleiman, Susannah Tarbush, Stephen Watts EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS: Maureen O’Rourke, Lulu Norman, Thomas Aplin INTERN: Bernard Goyder LAYOUT: Banipal Publishing CONTACTS: TEL: +44 (0)20 7832 1350 FAX: +44 (0)20 8568 8509 PUBLISHER: firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR: email@example.com INQUIRIES: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIPTIONS: email@example.com WEBSITE: www.banipal.co.uk PRINTED BY Short Run Press Ltd Bittern Road, Sowton Ind. Est. EXETER EX2 7LW Photographs not accredited have been donated, photographers unknown. Copyright Banipal 40: All material © Banipal, authors, translators and artists. All rights reserved. Contact the publisher for permission to reproduce any of the material published here.
Banipal is pleased to announce that during 2011 we are suppor ting the Cystic Fibrosis Trust with free promotion – our Charity of the Year.
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8 BANIPAL 40 – LIBYAN FICTION E D I T O R I A L
In the spring of 1998 we celebrated the publication of the first issue of Banipal magazine. I remember some mean Arab intellectuals spreading a few rumours here and there, saying that publishing a second issue would not be possible. When the second issue was published, they said the third issue would not be published. But the magazine continued on its journey, not only being published regularly, but trying in every new issue to create a variety of features in addition to poems, short stories and chapters from novels. A column was added for Travelling Tales and for Literary Influences, amongst others. No sooner had we finished one issue than we were immersed in the next one. And how we tried to plan for several issues at a time! But sadly this was not possible for people like us who follow the literary scene day in and day out. With the publishing of issue 20, we held a small, intimate party for our translator friends and fans of the magazine at Edward’s Pub in Hammersmith, London. It was a wonderful occasion and we still remember the faces of those who attended. That day, Margaret confirmed the magazine was in demand and that she had much work ahead of her. Today we publish the 40th issue, and what an amazing coincidence that it should be dedicated to the celebration of Libyan literature at such an extraordinary historical moment in the Arab world when the region is witnessing a chain of uprisings and revolutions against dictatorial and corrupt regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain,Yemen and, finally, Libya. We at Banipal are very proud of this special issue on Libyan fiction, and with it announce our absolute solidarity with the Libyan people in their aspiration to democratic rule and the exercising of all their rights, the first of which are to express their thoughts and the abolition of all forms of censorship on audio-visual media and literature. When I met by chance the veteran Libyan writer Ali Mustafa al-Musrati, one evening at the Greek Club in Cairo, February 2007 (at this time exactly), I said to him: “I’m extremely saddened by the neglect of Libyan literature in the Arab world and by the ignorance of the West.” I promised him that Banipal would publish a special feature on the wonderful literature of Libya. And how happy we are to fulfil this promise at this time in particular . . .
BANIPAL 40 – LIBYAN FICTION 9