Challenging the Odds: 27 Women Authors from the Mediterranean Arab World

Selected and Introduced by Margaret Obank and Samuel Shimon

Challenging the Odds is a selection of works by 27 women authors from issues of Banipalmagazine. The women – 17 fiction writers and 10 poets – come from the eight Arab countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Banipal is a pan-Arab magazine and looks at literature not from national points of view but across the Arab world as a whole; producing this feature has revealed certain gaps in our presentation of fiction and poetry by women authors from these Mediterranean countries, which we will seek to remedy in future. All 27 authors are daring, original, imaginative, taboo-breaking and forthright, making significant contributions to opening up the literary scene in the globalised 21st century, and adopting topics and styles that challenge, are thought-provoking and take as a first premiss the author’s right to freedom of expression; and six of them have already been selected as among the best 39 young Arab authors under the age of 40 (for the Beirut39 project). All these authors write freely, going where their subjects take them, and thereby contributing greatly to the questioning of backward attitudes, of repressive social norms and stereotypes, bringing a freshness, humour, honesty and openness to the ongoing discussion and dialogue about eternal human predicaments and individual freedoms.