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Edited by Sarah Cleave
Featuring writings from Anoud, Wajdi al-Ahdal, Cristina Ali Farah, Najwa Bin Shatwan, Rania Mamoun, Fereshteh Molavi, and Zaher Omareen
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Basma Ghalayini, Perween Richards, Sawad Hussain, William M. Hutchins, and Hope Campbell Gustafson

An emotional, timely collection of specially-commissioned writings from nations included in Trump's ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

Paperback: 9781941920732
ebook: 9781941920749


This edition proudly presented by Charles Dee Mitchell

On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions for 120 days and temporarily barring entry from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mass protests followed, and the order has since been blocked, revised and challenged by judges, politicians, activists and artists alike. But the battle is not yet over, and in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the UK, Trump has renewed calls for the ban.

This urgent and timely collection brings together seven specially commissioned stories from the so-called ‘banned nations’: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Written in response to Trump’s ban, it showcases new works by previously unplatformed writers, exploring the emotional and personal impact of all restrictions on movement – both existing restrictions and potential future bans.

Covering a range of approaches—from satire, to allegory, to literary realism—Banthology: Stories from Banned Nations is a testament to the importance of creative resistance in turbulent times.


About the Writers

Anoud is an Iraqi-born author living in Algiers.

Wajdi al-Ahdal is a Yemeni author, screenwriter and dramatist, and has written four novels and several short story collections. He spent many years in exile after a campaign against his novel, Mountain Boats, led to its confiscation by the Yemeni Ministry of Culture for insulting “morality, religion, and conventions of Yemeni society.”

Cristina Ali Farah is a writer, poet, playwright, and performer of Somali and Italian descent. She was raised in Mogadishu, Somalia, but fled in 1991 at the outbreak of civil war, and eventually settled in Rome to teach Somali language and culture at Roma Tre University. Her stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies and her 2007 novel Madre piccola was awarded the prestigious Vittorini Prize. In 2006, she was awarded the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize.

Najwa Bin Shatwan is a Libyan academic, novelist, and playwright. She has written three short story collections and three novels, including The Slaves’ Pen, shortlisted for the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. She was selected as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 40 by the Beirut39 project, and her story The Pool and the Piano was included in the Beirut39 anthology.

Rania Mamoun is is a Sudanese author, journalist, and activist.

Fereshteh Molavi was born in Tehran and is the author of several works of fiction, short stories and essays including The House of Cloud and Wind, The Sun Fairy and The Departures of Seasons, which was admired by the Mehregan Literary Award (Tehran, 2012). While in Iran, unable to publish some of her works due to censorship, she compiled a comprehensive bibliography of short stories in Persian and also translated numerous works by internationally-known writers. She moved to North America in 1998, and was previously a research librarian and the Persian bibliographer at Sterling Library, Yale University. She now lives in Toronto and divides her time among writing, organizing literature events, and advocating freedom of speech and human rights in Iran.

Zaher Omareen is a Syrian writer and researcher based in London. He has worked on independent cultural initiatives in Syria and Europe, and co-curated exhibitions on the art of the Syrian uprising. His short stories have appeared in Words Without Borders among others, and he recently co-edited and contributed to Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline (Saqi Books, 2014). He is currently working on a collection of short stories drawn from the collective memories of the 1982 Hama massacre.


About the Translators

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a British literary translator working from German, Russian and Arabic into English. She graduated from Oxford University in 2003 where she studied Russian and German, did an MA in Translation and Interpreting at Bath University, and then started studying Arabic intensively while already working as a professional translator. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation in all three of her language combinations. Ruth has translated novels by Fadi Zaghmout, Hanna Winter, Kathrin Rohmann and Yulia Yakovleva, and non-fiction books on nature, history, politics, civil rights, child psychology, linguistics, art history and literary criticism. She has also translated plays from Russia, Syria and Lebanon, and several short stories and children’s picture books.

Basma Ghalayini is an Arabic translator who has previously translated short fiction for Maaboret: The Short Story Project and Commonwealth Writers. She was born in Gaza, and grew up in the UK until the age of eight, before returning to the Strip.

William M. Hutchins is an American academic, author and translator of contemporary Arabic literature. He He is currently a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. His translations include the Cairo Trilogy by Egyptian Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz and A Land without Jasmine by Wadji al-Adhal. He has also translated the work of Tawfiq al-Hakim, Nawal El-Saadawi, Muhammad Khudayyir and Ibrahim al-Koni, and others.

Hope Campbell Gustafson graduated from Wesleyan University in 2012. She is an MFA candidate in the Literary Translation Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her translations have been published or are forthcoming in Exchanges Literary Journal, Asymptote, and The Brooklyn Rail.

Perween Richards is a literary translator from Arabic. She attended the Translate at City summer school in London in 2016, and was one of two winners of the school’s annual translation competition, sponsored by Comma Press. She was recently awarded an English PEN Translates grant to translate The Sea Cloak by Nayrouz Qarmout, which will be published in English by Comma Press in 2018.

Sawad Hussain is an Arabic translator and litterateur. She holds a MA in Modern Arabic Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies and regularly critiques Arabic literature in translation. She was co-editor of the Arabic-English side of the award-winning Oxford Arabic Dictionary (2014), and has translated the work of Fadi Zaghmout, Sahar Khalifeh, and Saud Al Sanousi among others.


A Recommended 2018 Summer Read by Mythili Rao of WNYC's New Yorker Radio Hour on The Takeaway

“This anthology is a welcome arrival in a time that is unwelcoming in so many needless ways – at least as the US is projecting. The voices, the writing of Rania Mamoun, Zaher Omareen, Fereshteh Molavi, Najwa Binshatwan, Ubah Cristina Ah Farah, Anoud, and Wajdi al-Ahdal, as given us by their estimable translators here, are all voices and writers we should be reading and knowing in any event. May this book help us begin to know these writers, their work, and lead to a deeper, world of reading, to making the larger world a more welcoming and gracious place in more ways.” —Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company

“Seven fresh, surprising views on boundaries and borders in a collection that combines black humor, islamo-futurism, fantasy, and painful realities.” —M. Lynx Qualey, Arablit