Printer’s Row Lit Fest Seeks Volunteers & A Reading by Mahmoud Saeed

Chicago Tribune’s annual Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest, drawing more than 125,000 book lovers and featuring over 250 authors and 150 booksellers, is approaching. Events will run all weekend on June 8th – 9th, 2013. The event’s success relies on over 200 volunteers and the organizers are looking for more help!

Benefits of being a Lit Fest Volunteer include free t-shirt, free lunch and rubbing elbows with authors such as Judy Blume, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, celebrity chef Rick Bayless and more.

The volunteer application can be found online at: http://trib.in/ZE9azZ. More information about this year’s presenters and other frequently asked questions can be found at: printersrowlitfest.org.

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The DePaul Humanities Center invites the DePaul community to attend a conversation with author Mahmoud Saeed and translator Kay Heikkenen about the just-released English translation of Saeed’s landmark Arab novel, Ben Barka Lane. Join them on Wednesday, May 22nd from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in room 400 of the Richardson Library (2350 N. Kenmore Avenue).

Saeed 05 22 13 libraryOriginally banned in Iraq, Ben Barka Lane was later presented with the Iraqi Ministry of Information Award.  It now appears for the first time in English translation.

In Ben Barka Lane we see the Morocco of the late 1960s through the eyes of a young political exile from Iraq—its beauty and misery, its unforgettable people. In this contemporary classic, Mahmoud Saeed offers us a unique portrait of a time and place, and a tale of the passion, politics, vengeance, and betrayal that take place there. “A landmark of the modern Arab novel,” in the words of one critic, Ben Barka Lane is now, at last, in English translation, as compelling today as when first published.

Sharqi, a political refugee from Iraq, comes to Morocco in 1964 and finds work as a high-school teacher in the small city of al-Mohammadiya. But Morocco proves no safe haven: the country is in political and social turmoil, as the state suppresses the recent leftist opposition led by Mahdi ben Barka. The opposition is scattered and the Hassan government is cracking down everywhere. Al-Mahdi himself has been forced to flee and has disappeared; rumor claims he has been killed in France. Sharqi just intends to keep his head down, and ride out the chaos. But he meets Habib, a friend and comrade of al-Mahdi, who, despite a severe heart condition, is considered a threat by the government. Habib is living in a kind of internal exile; his residence is now restricted by the government to this small town. Under these difficult circumstances, Sharqi and Habib form a close bond of friendship. But this brief respite ends with the appearance of Ruqayya, a beautiful young woman whose mysterious motives will divide them, and set off a chain of events and intrigue that no one could foresee.

Mahmoud Saeed, a prominent Iraqi novelist, has written more than 20 novels and short story collections. He was imprisoned several times and left Iraq in 1985 after the authorities banned the publication of some of his novels, including Ben Barka Lane (1970), which later won the Ministry of Information Award in 1994. He is an Arabic language instructor and author-in-residence at DePaul University in Chicago. He and his work have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Al Jazeera, and The New Yorker.

Kay Heikkinen received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and now teaches Arabic language at the University of Chicago. She is the translator of In the Time of Love by Naguib Mahfouz.

 

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