Iman Mersal’s work spans poetry and scholarship, personal essay and biography. In 2021, Mersal received the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for her deeply insightful prose work In the Footsteps of Enayat al-Zayyat.
This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of the Arab world’s most prestigious literary prizes, showcasing the stimulating and ambitious work of writers, translators, researchers, academics and publishers advancing Arab literature and culture around the globe.
Today, we talk with SZBA-winning Egyptian poet and writer Iman Mersal. In 1993, Mersal picked up an unknown novel by a forgotten writer from the 60s. And so began her long wanderings in search of Enayat El Zayat. El Zayat killed herself in 1963, four years before her book “Love and Silence” was finally published. Mersal’s portrait of El Zayat is a remarkable work of research, empathy and imagination.
Iman Mersal’s In the Footsteps of Enayat al-Zayyat (في أثر عنايات الزيات)was published by Kotob Khan Books in late 2019. We read excerpts from Robin Moger’s forthcoming English translation. You can also listen to our previous episode on this book, titled “Cold Trail.”
Richard Jacquemond’s translation, Sur les traces d'Enayat Zayyat, was published in the spring of 2021.
The only novel by Enayat al-Zayyat (1936-63), Love and Silence (الحب و الصمت) , was recently republished and is available on Google Play.
Other works in English translation by Iman Mersal include How to Mend: Motherhood And Its Ghosts, tr. Robin Moger and a forthcoming poetry collection, translated by Robyn Creswell. ArabLit has gathered links to poems by Mersal in English translation. Her co-translation of Waguih Ghali’s Beer in the Snooker Club (بيرة فى نادى البلياردو) is widely available.
You can read “Qāl wa Qulnā: What the Letter Qāf means in Spoken Jordanian” on 7iber. Mersal’s “The Displaced Voice” is available via Scribd.