Desert Rhapsody, a historical fantasy novel set in Ancient Arabia, is currently FREE on Smashwords

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“[The Arabs] lived in tents and were barbarians and warlike; numerous were superstitious and they were the most ignorant of all the peoples of the earth.”

— a late sixth century resident of Mesopotamia

During the 6th century in the Arabian Peninsula, Harb, like the other warriors of that time, scrapes a living by raiding other tribes of equal stature—until the day he convinces his allies to raid the great tribe of Aghlib. On the day of the battle, he holds his blade in his hand. It shines brilliantly under the bright desert sky and he smiles back at it. He leads the charge against the men of Aghlib, not knowing or caring that his selfish acts will have dire consequences.

If you are interested, get it free before the end of July. Here’s the link:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/338216

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How Can Arab Writers Forge a Space ‘Beyond National Origins’?

My thoughts are in the comment section.

Arabic Literature (in English)

In the fourth and final part of the series on “the Arabic novel in the West,” Palestinian novelist Raba’i Madhoun asked Palestinian-British writer Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It, for her views:

Dabbagh argued that writers — and this is perhaps particularly true of the current era — cannot be considered just national writers, as they are influenced by many traditions:

“I believe that geographical and linguistic labels on literature are less relevant than the way that writers, wherever they are or come from, are able to emotionally communicate a story. A Libyan writer may have more in common with an Argentinian writer than another Libyan in terms of style and approach. It would be hard to find a writer who has not read and been influenced by writers beyond their national boundaries.”

While a linguistic tradition and milieu certainly shape writers, Arab authors…

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Book Review – Despair by Vladimir Nabokov

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** spoiler alert **

Hermann, the protagonist, plans the perfect insurance fraud. He plans to kill his double, and collect the life insurance money. He executes his plan to perfection, making sure his victim’s nails are the mirror image of his own, trimming them oh so carefully. But how did Hermann end up at an inn surrounded by policemen and a mob of people looking at him as though he were a monster?

Simple. He failed to see that his double looks nothing like him.

Absurd, right?

Yes, but that’s what makes this novel magnificent. I will say nothing of the prose, because this is Nabokov and the elegant writing is to be expected. The novel gave me great pleasure. It is Kafkaesque without the heaviness, and it also reminds me of Notes from Underground.

If you enjoyed Notes from Underground, or if you enjoy Kafka and absurdism in general, you will probably like this novel. 4.5/5 stars.

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Book Review – Dune: House Harkennon

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In general, the prelude to Dune lacks the depth of the original series. The characters seem recycled as if the authors were just filling out old templates they created. The plot suffers from the fact that the reader knows where the story ends. As for the themes, for me, the main series was most interesting with the sami-philosophical aspect of Leto II sacrificing himself for the greater good (the golden path). So, the themes and questions in prelude are minuscule and petty compared to those in the original series.

Having said all of that, I think the prelude to Dune series was an enjoyable yet shallow read. I give it 3.5 stars.

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Dostoyevsky’s house and flavorwire’s list of 50 places every literary fan should visit

Here’s the link to flavorwire’s list: http://flavorwire.com/403319/50-places-every-literary-fan-should-visit

The places I’d like to visit most are those of the Russian greats. It would be really interesting to see Nabokov’s butterflies (btw that would be a great name for a novel), imagining him running around the field to capture them, then meticulously trying to preserve them.

Was Dostoyevsky’s house on the list? If not, it really, really should be.

Here are some photos of his place:

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Design for Baghdad’s New Mega-library

Arabic Literature (in English)

It’s being billed as the first public library to open in Baghdad in 30 years:

The plans were revealed earlier this month, and the designs from AMBS architects are utopically glittering, as are many of their other designs for the “Youth City” project.

I believe Saad Eskander, Director of the National Library of Iraq, who reportedly said: “It is imperative for the new Iraq to consolidate its young democracy and good governance through knowledge. New libraries have a notable role to play by promoting unconditional access to information, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, and transparency. By responding to the needs of Iraq’s next generations, the new library, we hope, will play an important role in the future of our country.”

Indeed: I think libraries are humanity’s great asset.

But outside of the “how will this get done?” and “why does everything have to look like a generic sci-fi-modern-city landscape?” questions…

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Desert Rhapsody, live now at the kindle store and smashwords

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Desert Rhapsody is currently available at the kindle store and smashwords at an introductory price of .99 instead of the original price of 3.99

Get it before the end of July.

The novel is set in 6th C. Arabia just before the emergence of Islam.

Here are the links:

http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Rhapsody-ebook/dp/B00E05BTZ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374153127&sr=8-1&keywords=Desert+Rhapsody

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/338216

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