Reading: As Though She Were Sleeping, by Elias Khoury

Thu, May 10, 2012 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all readings »)

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

$5 / free for Alwan members, students & seniors

As Though She Were Sleeping
is an homage to dreaming, "the only way of escaping oppression, be it familial, religious, or political." Milia's response to her new husband and to the Middle East of 1947 is to close her eyes and float into parallel worlds where identities and faces shift, and where she can converse with the dead and foresee the future. As the novel progresses, Milia's dreams become more navigable than the strange and obstinate "reality" in which she finds herself, and the two worlds grow ever more entangled. This wondrous tapestry of love, faith, history, and vision breaks new literary ground.


"Enthralling . . . Mesmerizing."
—The Economist (UK)

"An enchanting hymn to the Middle East, infused with the richness and beauty of classical Arabic poetry."
—The Guardian (UK)

"There has been powerful fiction about Palestinians and by Palestinians, but few have held to the light the myths, tales and rumors of both Israel and the Arabs with such discerning compassion."
—New York Times Book Review

"Elias Khoury is a pure storyteller. A writer who understands the hypnotic power of words, and who lets this power become the actual subject of his books. Of course, alongside the words, there is reality, palpable, sensuous, atrocious."
—Le Nouvel Observateur

"No Lebanese writer has been more successful than Elias Khoury in telling the story of Lebanon . . . Khoury is one of the most innovative novelists in the Arab world."
—Washington Post Book World

"The beautiful, resilient city of Beirut belongs to Khoury."
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Elias Khoury's latest novel returns to a golden age. Beirut in the 30s, unoccupied Palestine and a love affair recalled through a set of dream sequences: an Arab spring of a very different sort."
—Tariq Ali

Elias Khoury

Born in Beirut in 1948, Elias Khoury is the author of eleven novels, four volumes of literary criticism, and three plays. The publication of his first novel, On the Relations of the Circle (1975), entered him into the Beirut vanguard of modern Arabic literature, which was seeking to create new dimensions in the movement of modernism. Khoury’s commitment to Palestinian human rights began when he visited a refugee camp in Jordan at age nineteen. Khoury has been an advocate ever since, devoting his energies to the Palestine Research Center in Beirut and speaking out in articles, essays, and through his fiction. Khoury is a Global Distinguished professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. In 1998, he was awarded the Palestine Prize for Gate of the Sun, and in 2000, the novel was named Le Monde Diplomatique’s Book of the Year. Elias Khoury is a public intellectual, and a cultural activist who plays a major role in contemporary Arabic culture and in the defense of the liberty of expression and democracy.

Read more about Elias Khoury and his novels at The Nation

Listen to Khoury read from and discuss Gate of the Sun at PennSound:

Sinan Antoon, Moderator

Sinan Antoon is an Iraqi poet and novelist. His co-translation of Darwish’s poetry was nominated for the PEN Translation Prize in 2004. His works include The Baghdad Blues, I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody, and The Pomegranate Alone. He is an assistant professor of Arabic Literature at New York University.

Archipelago Books

Archipelago Books is a not-for-profit press devoted to publishing excellent translations of classic and contemporary world literature. In our first eight years, we have brought out over seventy books from more than twenty languages.


Alwan's literary programming is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Last updated: 2012-05-09 18:05:32

Elias Khoury
Elias Khoury
As Though She Were Sleeping (Archipelago Books, 2012)
As Though She Were Sleeping (Archipelago Books, 2012)
Sinan Antoon
Sinan Antoon

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