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Modern Arab writers


Abdelrahman Munif

In the opinion of many, Abdelrahman Munif was the most important author in the Arab world during the late 20th century. His magnificent trilogy, Cities of Salt, has been described by Edward Said as "The only serious work of fiction that tries to show the effect of oil, Americans and the local oligarchy on a Gulf country."

Abdelrahman Munif was born in Jordan in 1933 into a trading family of Saudi Arabian origin. He was stripped of his Saudi citizenship for political reasons. He studied law at Baghdad and Cairo universities and took a PhD in oil economics at the University of Belgrade. During his oil industry career he served as director of crude oil marketing. In Baghdad he edited a monthly periodical, al-Naft wa al-Tanmiyya (Oil and Development). He later became a full-time writer and spent the rest of his life in Syria. He died on 24 January 2004.

Obituaries: The Guardian, Counterpunch, Reason Online

Munif bibliography


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Articles about Abdelrahman Munif

Dhahran, 1996
A short article by Abdelrahman Munif, commenting on the bombing of the US base at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

War on words
by Tariq Ali
The triumph of the free market after the end of the Cold War doesn't mean a free market in ideas. Tariq Ali discusses the way literature can still be a crime against the state - with reference to Munif and other Arab writers. (From "Red Pepper")

Oil Monarchies
by Gregory F Gause
A political scientist explores some of the themes that Munif addresses in his novels. See especially Chapter 2

The Barber of Baghdad 
Review by Farouq Abdel-Qadir, al-Ahram Weekly, 13 January, 2000

Crisis in the Arab world – oil, political Islam, and dictatorship  
An interview by Iskandar Habash,
Al Jadid magazine, Vol. 9, no. 45.


Tool for change: Abd al-Rahman Munif remembered

A special issue of the MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies on Munif's life and work (Vol 7, Spring 2007). The complete issue can be downloaded here in PDF format or as individual articles:

Sonja Mejcher-Atassi

Ard al-Sawad: A novel formulation of people's history of Iraq
Ferial J Ghazoul

Upon Leaving the Bridge and Endings: a redemptive journey
Maher Jarrar

Writing the novel anew (Arabic and English Translation)
Elias Khoury

De-construction: Two edges of A Magian Love-Story
Nisrine Jaafar

Histoire et fiction dans Mudun al-Milh (Les Cites de Sel)
(French and English abstract)
Eric Gautier

Munif's interest in modern art: Friendship, symbolic exchange and the art of the book
Sonja Mejcher-Atassi

The Monument of Freedom (Arabic and English translation)
‘Abd al-Rahman Munif

An Arabian master
Sabry Hafez

Munif: Poetics of a life 
Includes biographical sketch, a chronology of Munif's works and correspondence.

Book review 
Abdel Rahman Munif wal Iraq: Sira wa Thikrayat
Maher Jarar (ed.) Reviewed by Abdel Razzaq Takriti

Translated works by Abdelrahman Munif

Cities of Salt: A Novel
Paperback, 1989
Available from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk

Story of a City: A Childhood in Amman
Abd Al-Rahman Munif, Samira Kawar. Paperback.
Available from amazon.co.uk

The Trench (Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 2)
Peter Theroux (translator). Paperback, 1993
Available from amazon.com

The Trench (The Cities of Salt Trilogy, Vol 2)
Available from amazon.com

Variations on Night and Day
Peter Theroux (translator).
Available from amazon.com

Variations on Night and Day
Peter Theroux (translator).
Available from amazon.com


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Last revised on 04 August, 2015