The Arab Spring: A Literary Perspective

Date: Thursday, 21 Jul 2011 6:30pm to 8:30pm
See Map
Khalili Lecture Theatre
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Thornhaugh Street, London
Closest Tube: Russell Square
See Map


Part of the Mayor of London's Shubbak Festival; London’s first ever celebration of contemporary culture from across the Arab world.

Three Arab authors join Brian Whitaker for a conversation about the momentous events of the ‘Arab Spring’ and what it means for literary life in their home countries.

Giuma Bukleb was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1952 and has published short stories in Libyan literary periodicals since 1976. Imprisoned by the Gaddafi regime in the 1970s-80s, Bukleb has recently composed a series of audio podcasts on his views of the ‘Arab Spring’ entitled Letter from London.

Khaled al-Berry was born in Suhaj, Egypt in 1972. His acclaimed memoir Life is More Beautiful than Paradise: A Jihadist’s Own Story was published in English in 2009. Al-Berry’s third novel An Oriental Dance was shortlisted for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (also known as the ‘Arabic Booker’). He currently works for the BBC World Service.

Ghalia Qabbani is a Syrian author and journalist who grew up in Kuwait. She has published three collections of short stories and her second novel in Arabic, Secrets and Lies, was published in 2010. She is a columnist for Al Hayat.

Brian Whitaker is an Editor of the Guardian’s Comment is Free and former Guardian Middle East Editor. He is author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (2006) and What’s Really Wrong with the Middle East (2009).

The event is free of charge; seats will be allocated on a first come, first seated basis (no need to book).

The panel discussion will be followed by a drinks reception courtesy of the Arab British Centre and Caabu.

The co-organisers would like to thank Banipal and the London Middle East Institute for their support and assistance.

Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. Presented by the Mayor of London. Sponsored by HSBC. Shubbak will feature more than 70 events in over 30 key cultural venues across the capital, covering visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, architecture, lectures and discussion.


Image © Fatimah Amer, 2011