On Abridging Arabic Novels and Teaching Beyond the ‘National Security’ Paradigm


George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies is starting a book club, they write, “to give students an opportunity to practice their Arabic and be exposed to Arabic literary culture.” They will start by reading the abridged version of Sayyidi wa Habibi by Man Booker International finalist Hoda Barakat:

abridgedThe book was abridged and edited by Laila Familiar, who took a moment to answer questions about the process of abridging, book clubs, and teaching Arabic with contemporary literature.

Why do Sayyidi wa Habibi and Saaq al-Bambu work as abridged editions for Arabic-language learners?

Laila Familiar: They work for three reasons: 1) Because they are simplified at a linguistic level that students of Arabic can handle without feeling frustrated 2) Because the novels deal with universal human issues that can easily engage college-aged learners (love, friendship, identity, discrimination, sex, drugs, religion, etc), 3) Because they offer amazing plots written by two Arab living authors.

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