Though many of these novels were originally written in Arabic or Farsi, the translations have provided excellent literature for people who read in English. Translations do make the quotes sound different, but we feel these quotes were captured very well by the translators, so we listed our top 10 favorite quotes from Middle Eastern novels.
1) “Science is the language of the intellect of society. Art is language of the entire human personality.” –Naguib Mahfouz, Cairo Trilogy (Egyptian)
2) “Just as when we step into a mosque and its’ high open dome leads our minds up, up, to greater things, so a great carpet seeks to do the same under the feet. Such a carpet directs us to the magnificence of the infinite, veiled, yet never near, closer than the pulse of jugular, the sunburst that explodes at the center of a carpet signals this boundless radiance. Flowers and trees evoke the pleasures of paradise, and there is always a spot at the center of the carpet that brings calm to the heart. A single white lotus flower floats in a turquoise pool, and in this tiniest of details, there it is: a call to the best within, summoning us to the joy of union. In carpets, I now saw not just intricacies of nature and color , not just mastery of space , but a sign of the infinite design. In each pattern lay the work of a weaver of the world, complete and whole; and in each knot of daily existence lay mine.” –Anita Amirrezvani, The Blood of Flowers (Iranian)
3) “Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.” –Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love (Turkish)
4) “People do amazing things for love. Books are full of wonderful stories about this kind of stuff, and stories aren’t just fantasies, you know. They’re so much a part of the people who write them that they practically teach their readers invaluable lessons about life.” –Mahbod Seraji, The Rooftops of Tehran (Iranian)
5) “I wanted this world to still. I wanted to fix it and be fixed within it. But everything was on the move, the clouds, the wind…” – Hisham Matar, Anatomy of a Disappearance (Libyan)
6)“This isn’t the Palestinian flag. Palestine isn’t a country for it to have a flag. Palestine is a condition. Every Arab is a Palestinian. Every poor man who carries a gun is a Palestinian. Palestine is the condition of us all.” –Elias Khoury, Little Mountain (Lebanese)
7)“The moment feels laden with mystery and tension, as if for one second the world has agreed to pay attention to time itself.” –Diana Abu-Jaber, The Language of Baklava: A Memoir (Jordanian)
8) “From the café terraces of Raouche or Ain Mreisseh, where we would sometimes go for a banana split, we couldn’t see the Shiite ghettoes or the Palestinian camps. And when we wear sunglasses, we can’t spot all the dirt either.” –Lamia Ziade, Bye-Bye Babylon (Lebanese)
Do you have any quotes from Middle Eastern novels that you love? Tell us in the comments below and we will include them in our next bit!
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