Impostures is “astounding”: Reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Mada Masr, and more

Monday, June 29th, 2020 12:39 pm

Sam Sacks writes in the Wall Street Journal that Impostures is an “astounding new adaptation of the Maqāmāt of al-Harīrī. . . . Impostures shows off English in the same flattering light, demonstrating its dynamism, its endurance, its mutability and its glorious, weedy wildness.” Read the full WSJ review of Impostures here.

Meanwhile at Mada Masr, Matthew Chovanec writes about surveillance, wordplay, and Impostures, which he deems “an important translation of a criminally neglected work of world literature, and an impressive literary work in its own right.” Read the full review here.

Impostures also received mention on the blogs Language Hat (“IMPOSTURES.“) and Language Log (“Impressive Arabic translational improvisations and impostures“). Finally, translator Michael Cooperson was recently interviewed on BYU Radio’s “Top of Mind with Julie Rose.” Listen to find out how and why he “Englished” this popular work of Arabic literature into cowboy language, business jargon, teenage slang, and more. For more interviews with Michael Cooperson and press coverage of Impostures, see these previous posts on our blog.

Impostures on the Seattle Town Hall and Bulaq Podcasts

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 11:31 am

This week, translator Michael Cooperson appears on the Seattle Town Hall’s “In the Moment” podcast to discuss his new book, Impostures, in conversation with poet Shin Yu Pai. Impostures is a new translation of the Maqāmāt of al-Ḥarīrī, with fifty rogue’s tales translated fifty ways. Listen to the podcast here (41 minutes).

Impostures also gets a mention in the latest episode of the Bulaq podcast, “Locked-In Lit”: host M. Lynx Qualey mentions it as one of the books she is reading in quarantine and reads a passage from Imposture 14, “Scot Free,” which is written in Scots-inflected English in the style of Robert Burns and James Hogg. Listen to the episode here.

Impostures on the Groks Science Podcast

Friday, May 1st, 2020 2:49 pm

This week Michael Cooperson appeared on the Groks Science Podcast to discuss Impostures, his new translation of the Maqāmāt of al-Ḥarīrī. He explains what makes the original Maqāmāt so distinctive in Arabic and talks about his unique approach to translating the work, as well as what his favorite Impostures are. Click here to listen to the interview (10 minutes long, beginning at the 1:20 mark).

Saints, Goats, and Genealogy: The First Volume of al-Yūsī’s Discourses

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 7:00 am

The peripatetic al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī was in his fifties, and arguably the most influential and well-known Moroccan intellectual of his generation, when he found himself sent by Moulay Ismāʿīl to live near the ruins of the Dilāʾ Sufi lodge. It was in this moment, when he was under quasi-house-arrest by Morocco’s second Alawite ruler, that the scholar set down The Discourses, the first volume of which has now been edited and translated to English as a “labor of love” by Justin Stearns, Associate Professor in Arab Crossroads Studies at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Although al-Yūsī is remembered foremost as a logician and a saint, The Discourses presents other sides to the seventeenth-century Sufi intellectual, offering up his culinary and digestive opinions, his thoughts on composing poetry, a number of amusing anecdotes, and tips for parents who are dealing with late walkers.

This wide-ranging, digressive seventeenth-century account is largely inward-looking; it’s almost entirely uninterested in Europe or in al-Yūsī’s contemporaries in Cairo or Baghdad. And yet it also fluidly weaves history from the seventh through tenth centuries of the Arab East with the Morocco of his times.

In this second of a two-part discussion with M. Lynx Qualey, editor of ArabLit, Stearns answers a few questions about his own long journey with al-Yūsī, including his sometimes-contradictory takes on the topics of genealogy and women, belonging to the Amazigh community, the trustworthiness of saints, and…lice collars. (more…)

Al-Yūsī’s Discourses: Situating a Sufi Scholar in a Vivid Seventeenth-Century Morocco

Thursday, April 16th, 2020 7:45 am

The peripatetic al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī was in his fifties, and arguably the most influential and well-known Moroccan intellectual of his generation, when he found himself sent by Moulay Ismāʿīl to live near the ruins of the Dilāʾ Sufi lodge. It was in this moment, when he was under quasi–house arrest by Morocco’s second Alawite ruler, that the scholar set down The Discourses, the first volume of which has now been edited and translated to English as a “labor of love” by Justin Stearns, Associate Professor in Arab Crossroads Studies at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Although al-Yūsī is remembered foremost as a logician and a saint, The Discourses presents other sides to the seventeenth-century Sufi intellectual, offering up his culinary and digestive opinions, his thoughts on composing poetry, a number of amusing anecdotes, and tips for parents who are dealing with late walkers.

This wide-ranging, digressive seventeenth-century account is largely inward-looking; it’s almost entirely uninterested in Europe or in al-Yūsī’s contemporaries in Cairo or Baghdad. And yet it also fluidly weaves history from the seventh through tenth centuries of the Arab East with the Morocco of his times.

In this first of a two-part discussion with M. Lynx Qualey, editor of ArabLit, Stearns answers a few questions about his own long journey with al-Yūsī, including how he met al-Yūsī, how he situates this work, and why he thought, “If there was ever a book I’d run into that should be translated, this was probably it.” (more…)

Chicken in Blackberry Sauce: A Recipe from Scents and Flavors

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 9:41 am

The thirteenth-century Syrian cookbook Scents and Flavors is out in paperback this month with a new foreword by Claudia Roden, author of A Book of Middle Eastern Food. 

In this video, translator and culinary expert Charles Perry shows us how to make chicken with blackberry sauce. Check out the video and written recipe below! Consider pairing this dish with another recipe from Scents and Flavors, like lemon-pistachio stuffing or carrots with mint and coriander.

If you try any of the recipes from Scents and Flavors, we’d love to hear about it on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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A Dish of Carrots: A Recipe from Scents and Flavors

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 10:05 am

The thirteenth-century Syrian cookbook Scents and Flavors comes out in paperback this month with a new foreword by Claudia Roden, author of A Book of Middle Eastern Food. 

To mark the occasion, translator and culinary expert Charles Perry has recorded a video to show us how to make one of the book’s recipes for carrots, called simply “A Dish of Carrots.” Check out the video and written recipe below, and stay tuned for another recipe video to be released soon!

If you try this recipe or any of the recipes from Scents and Flavors, we’d love to hear about it on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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On Longing for Home: An Excerpt from The Discourses by al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 8:11 am

The Discourses by al-Ḥasan al-Yūsī is a collection of essays on a wide variety of subjects, including theology, literature, and history, by an influential Moroccan scholar who began writing in 1084/1685, at the age of roughly fifty-four. In this excerpt, translated by Justin Stearns, al-Yūsī writes about why we as humans long for our homelands:

There are three reasons [that a person likes to identify with his city and boast about it]: (1) Generally, a person knows no other place. (2) Exalted God has caused people to love their homes so that they remain in them and the earth to be cultivated in accordance with Exalted God’s decree. It is as the Prophet said, God bless and keep him: “God made Medina beloved to us to the same extent as Mecca, if not more.” (3) Natural inclination, for everyone feels affection for his land, just as he does for his mother or father. Thus, people continue to long for their home, or any place where they have experienced happiness and intimacy. There is a saying: “A noble person longs after his country, just as the camel rider longs for the watering hole.” (more…)

Teaching Religion with the Library of Arabic Literature

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 11:57 am

Elias G. Saba writes about his experience teaching religious studies at Grinnell College using books from the Library of Arabic Literature, from al-Shāfiʿī’s Epistle on Legal Theory to Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq’s Leg over Leg.

I have been teaching religious studies at Grinnell College for the past four years. As I develop my courses, texts from the Library of Arabic Literature (LAL) have become key components of many of my syllabuses. I have used some of the paperback editions and made extensive use of the digital editions of these texts, available through Grinnell’s library. In this post, I will discuss the various ways these texts have enriched my classes, some obvious and some less so. I hope that by providing an overview of how I have used these texts in class, I will start a conversation about how these books may serve other scholars in teaching classes for undergraduates.

In my entry-level course “Traditions of Islam,” we read from three different LAL texts. Early in the class, we focus on the figure of the Prophet Muḥammad. This section of the course ends with three selections from Maʿmar ibn Rāshid’s The Expeditions (translated by Sean W. Anthony). The stories “Those Who Emigrated to Abyssinia,” “The Story of the Slander,” and “The Marriage of Fatimah” (more…)

Lemon-Pistachio Stuffing: A Recipe from Scents and Flavors

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 10:05 am

Image credit: CC0 via Pixabay.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, allow us to suggest this flavorful stuffing recipe from the 13th-century Syrian cookbook Scents and Flavors, with pistachios, lemon juice, and a variety of herbs and spices including parsley, mint, caraway, thyme, and cinnamon. Of course, there were no turkeys in 13th-century Syria, but we think substituting turkey for chicken in this recipe will work just fine.

Here’s what you’ll need: (more…)