The Middle East is a Fiction

    Amatoritsero Ede

    AuthorAs cliché as it might sound or read that ‘truth is sometimes stranger than fiction’, the series of persistent symbolic and literal political explosions in the Middle East and North Africa, country after dazed country, proves that truism right once again.

    ‘…First it was sunny Tunisia, next the jewel, Egypt; Jordan, Yemen and then Bahrain, Syria, inscrutable Libya, until the virus spreads across the hot desert and drove fear into the hearts of Princes, Sheiks and benevolent dictators…’ That preceding sentence could easily begin the epic narrative of the struggle between power and citizenship that the Middle East and North Africa has become. Some of the greatest poets or storytellers from that region could easily have written that novel – Nawal El Sadawi, Mahmud Darwish, Yashar Kemal, Orhan Pamuk, or the younger Hisham Matar or Mohsin Hammid. But I will give precedence to the art of Nobel laureate, Naguib Mahfouz, whose expansive powers is tailor-made to capture the ongoing epic tale, beginning in Egyptian antiquity on the banks of the Nile, and spanning the Northern rims of Africa and the tiniest village on the farthest reach of the dessert.

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    Round Table

    Motion Sweeter Far than Rest

    Poet, Amatoritsero Ede, in conversation with novelist, Antanas Sileika

    AuthorAmatoritsero Ede: First, congratulations on your latest novel, Underground (Thomas Allen, 2011). In how far can one say that this work is a probing of your identity and questions of self-knowledge, especially being the last book in what seems to be a trilogy with Lithuania as setting?

    Anatanas Sileika: I do not probe my identity so much as use the defect of my fractured identity to give me access to material unavailable to others. By “defect” I mean that I have been lost most of my life. I am a castaway in paradise, living better than most of the rest of the world but regretting the loss of the past. I was raised in a strange mixture of alternating melancholy and delight by parents whose own pasts were sealed behind the iron curtain. They were subject to dark moods during their whole lives for what they had lost, but they delighted in the country they had found. My mother adopted North American ways as fast or faster than the native women.

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    Defining Indo-Canadian Writing

    Mariellen Ward

    AuthorJasmine D’Costa sat solidly in her chair, looked at me with clear, wide-open eyes and talked with a sense of authority in her voice about her past as a banker in Mumbai and her present as a writer and editor in Toronto.

    Across from her, Mayank Bhatt talked about establishing himself as a writer in Canada, with an amiable mix of gentleness and conviction. Author Farzana Doctor listened more than she talked, but when she added something to the conversation, it was carefully considered and spoken in articulate tones, tinged with the formality of academia. Writer and book reviewer Niranjana Iyer, soft-spoken and well-bred, looked like an Indian Audrey Hepburn, and she drew me in with her huge, expressive eyes and the obvious intelligence in her voice.

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