Author Ghada Abdel Aal Discusses Best-Selling Book “I Want to Get Married!”

9780292723979Ghada Abdel Aal will discuss her best-selling book “I Want to Get Married!” (University of Texas Press, Oct. 2010) at an event hosted by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Arabic Flagship Program, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

After years of searching for Mr. Right in living-room meetings arranged by family or friends, Ghada Abdel Aal, a young Egyptian professional, decided to take to the blogosphere to share her experiences and vent her frustrations at being young, single, and female in Egypt. Her blog, I Want to Get Married!, quickly became a hit with both men and women in the Arab world. With a keen sense of humor and biting social commentary, Abdel Aal recounts in painful detail her adventures with failed proposals and unacceptable suitors. There’s Mr. Precious, who storms out during their first meeting when he feels his favorite athlete has been slighted, and another suitor who robs her in broad daylight, to name just a few of the characters she runs across in her pursuit of wedded bliss.

“I Want to Get Married!” has since become a best-selling book in Egypt and the inspiration for a television series. This witty look at dating challenges skewed representations of the Middle East and presents a realistic picture of what it means to be a single young woman in the Arab world, where, like elsewhere, a good man can be hard to find.

The book was translated by University of Texas at Austin alumna Nora Eltahawy, who earned her master’s degree in comparative literature in May 2010.

The author will discuss her book 3:30 p.m., Thursday, October 28, at the AT&T Conference Center, Classroom 105. A book signing will follow at 7 p.m. at BookWoman, located at 5501 North Lamar, A-105.

Professor Translates Novel about Iran-Iraq War

In the United States, translations make up only a small percentage of books published each year, and very few of them are from the Middle East. But translators have been working steadily over the years to alter this picture.

Among them is UT Professor of Persian and Comparative Literature Mohammad Ghanoonparvar, translator of “Fortune Told in Blood,” a novel about the Iran-Iraq War by Iranian author David Ghaffarzadegan.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, in partnership with University of Texas Press, published the translation last year.

Though Ghanoonparvar has translated numerous novels, short story collections and plays during his 30 years of experience, he finds the process of translation is always fraught with tough decisions.

There are several schools of thought about the best way to translate, the scholar says.

Professor Ghanoonparvar

Professor Ghanoonparvar

Some argue a translation should reflect the original language as literally as possible, while others believe it should read as though it had originally been written in the target language. Ghanoonparvar has found that striking a happy medium between these two extremes has served his projects well.

While translation is no easy feat, finding a publisher presents an even greater challenge. However, Ghanoonparvar has seen improvement in recent years and says continuing political focus on the Middle East has spurred interest in literature from the region.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas at Austin has published literature in translation from the Middle East for more than 20 years. Find more books from the series at www.utexas.edu/utpress/subjects/cmes.html.

This post was adapted from the story “The Art of Translation” by Wendy Moore, which appeared in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies’ 2008-09 Newsletter. Moore is the editor of the Middle Eastern Studies publication series.

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Warnock Fernea

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, professor emerita of Middle Eastern Studies and comparative literature, passed away earlier this week. She was 81. Read an obituary here.

Known as “B.J.” to her friends and family, Fernea was a noted scholar, filmmaker and author of several books on women’s issues in the Middle East.

Her memoir “Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village” (1965) which detailed her immersion into the lives of the women of Al-Nahra, was a national bestseller.

Did you know Professor Fernea? Leave a comment and share your best memories of the beloved author and scholar.