Michael E. Marmura Lectures in Arabic Studies 2023-24: The Politics of Fiction and Translation

When and Where

Monday, September 25, 2023 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Bachtyar Ali
Kareem Abdulrahman
Fırat Bozçalı
Jeannie Miller


The Politics of Fiction and Translation:
A Conversation with Bachtyar Ali, Kareem Abdulrahman, Firat Bozçali, and Jeannie Miller


In-Person: BF200B, Bancroft Building (4 Bancroft Avenue, Toronto)
Zoom: To Register, visit the online registration link 

Politics has at least two faces in Ali’s works. While his characters are in a constant search to prove their humanity, politics often appears as a barrier in that search. Why does their salvation seem to fall beyond politics? Yet another face is the politics of literature: Kurdish language has lived on the margins of the more dominant languages in the Middle East for centuries. In this context, literary translation could be seen as an effort to put the Kurds, the largest minority group without their own nation state, on the cultural map of the world.

In this conversation, we will probe questions such as: Where do the politics of publishing and those of the Middle East collide? Is literary translation a means to put the Kurds, the largest minority group without their own nation state, on the world’s cultural map? What unique challenges do translators of Kurdish texts face?

Bachtyar Ali is one of the most prominent contemporary intellectuals from Iraqi Kurdistan. The Last Pomegranate Tree (Archipelago Books, 2023), one of his most famous novels, was just translated into English by translator and Kurdish affairs analyst Kareem Abdulrahman. It tells the story of Muzafar-i-Subhdan, a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter in Iraq desperately searching for his son after being held in a desert prison for 21 years.

Fırat Bozçali focus on smuggling economies, human rights advocacy, and Kurdish politics in Turkey. 

Jeannie Miller is an Associate Professor of medieval Arabic literature in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.

Books will be available for purchase, cash-only.
Students interested in receiving a digital copy in advance should contact jeannie.miller@utoronto.ca

* See the event poster: PDF iconMarmura Lecture September 25 poster

* This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature.