At our next meeting we plan to discuss The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous and we will have another special guest; Elisabeth Jaquette, who translated both Minor Detail and The Frightened Ones. Elisabeth Jaquette is an award-winning translator from the Arabic, whose work includes Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue, Rania Mamoun’s Thirteen Months of Sunrise. She is also executive director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA).
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join our discussion. You will then be sent the details to join the Zoom book club meeting.
Dima Wannous is a Syrian writer and translator. She studied French literature at Damascus University and the Sorbonne. She has written for newspapers such as Al-Safir, Al-Hayat, the Washington Post and the online outlet Jadaliyya. She has also worked for broadcast media (radio and TV). She caught the eye of literary critics with Tafasil (Details), a short story collection released in 2007. She published her debut novel Kursi (The Chair) in 2008. She was named as one of the Beirut39, a group of 39 Arab writers under the age of 40 chosen through a contest organised by Banipal magazine and the Hay Festival.
Dima’s 2017 novel Al-Kha’ifoun (The Frightened Ones) was shortlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. It describes the life of a young woman in Damascus during the civil war who receives a manuscript by a former lover who fled to Germany. Suleima feels anxious as she looks at the pile of papers sent to her by Naseem, the handsome man with the bulging muscles. As she devours them, lingering on every word, she finds that she is reading an unfinished novel, or biography, about a woman dominated by fear, just like her. What did Naseem mean by it? Had he himself been overwhelmed by fear and unable to finish it, and did he now want her to write the ending?