Ursula Lindsey writes about culture, education, and politics in the Arab world, and cohosts BULAQ, a podcast on Arabic literature. She is based in Rabat, Morocco. (June 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

Coup de Théâtre

The Comédie-Française performing Sa‘dallah Wannous’s Rituals of Signs and Transformations, Paris, May 2013

Sentence to Hope: A Sa‘dallah Wannous Reader

translated from the Arabic and with an introduction by Robert Myers and Nada Saab
In the spring of 1967, Sa‘dallah Wannous, a young Syrian journalist and playwright, was studying theater at the Sorbonne in Paris. That June, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, it gained control of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Sinai; about 100,000 Syrians were driven …

Is Tunisia Ready for Gender Equality?

Demonstrators on National Women’s Day, Tunis, August 13, 2018. Earlier that day President Beji Caid Essebsi had announced that an inheritance equality bill would be submitted to parliament.
On January 14, the eighth anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, I joined the crowds passing through metal detectors to gather in Tunis’s Avenue Habib Bourguiba. A few people carried pictures of protesters killed in 2011. Children waved little Tunisian flags. At one end of the avenue, a concert was taking place. Most political parties had set up stands, and there were speeches about how much the revolution had accomplished so far (from parties in the government) and how little (from the opposition). Strangers in the street engaged in polite but animated political arguments, and small groups leaned in to listen. Eight years after the Arab Spring began in Tunisia, this is the only country in the region where such scenes of spontaneous public debate can still be witnessed.

Restoring Morocco’s Past

Ahmed Bouanani, Paris, 1962

The Hospital: A Tale in Black and White

by Ahmed Bouanani, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud, with an introduction by Anna Della Subin

The Shutters

by Ahmed Bouanani, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
In 1967 the Moroccan writer and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani contracted tuberculosis and was confined for six months in the Moulay Youssef Hospital in Rabat. In 1990 he published a novel, The Hospital. In the first lines, its unnamed narrator tells us, “When I walked through the iron gate of the …