IBIS EDITIONS is a small press and non-profit organization founded in Jerusalem in 1998 and dedicated to the publication of Levant-related books of poetry and belletristic prose. The press publishes translations from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, French, and the other languages of the region. New writing is published, though special attention is paid to overlooked works from the recent and distant past. Ibis aims to make a modest contribution to the literature of this part of the world by drawing together a group of writers and translators whom both politics and market-forces would otherwise keep far apart, or out of print altogether. Ibis is motivated by the belief that literary work, especially when translated into a common language, can serve as an important vehicle for the promotion of understanding between individuals and peoples, and for the discovery of common ground.
While tribalism and fence-building are the order of the day, Ibis seeks to present readers of serious literature with books that embody the cultural cross-fertilization that characterizes the best writing from the Levant and the thinking of its finest writers. In one way or another, all of the work we publish navigates what essayist Guy Davenport called the "Geography of the Imagination." ("The imagination has a history, as yet unwritten, and it has a geography, as yet only dimly seen.") At the same time, each of our books derives from prolonged engagement with the actual people, boulders, groves, and city streets that make up the local landscape.
Fueled by the
goodwill of the press's friends and the dedication to excellence of
its writers, translators, and editors, Ibis
Editions operates with very limited means. We rely on contributions
to survive, and the border-crossing, syncretic nature of the project
itself makes it difficult to receive funding
from traditional sources. Nonetheless, we have tried to show that
it is in fact possible to publish books of wide variety and high caliber,
as we have also--through a range of public readings,
presentations, and encounters--worked to build bridges of various
sorts, between Arabs and Jews, the communal and the personal, America
and the Middle East, and more. In short, we hope that our books have
changed and will continue to change the way individual readers think
about this troubled region and about the lives and literatures of
the people who live here.
"[Ibis Editions] has cleared a space for
conversation in a contentious region.... Browsing through
Ibis's small list is like wandering into a literary café
filled with a vital spirit of intellectual
engagement.... All [the books] have intrinsic literary
merit transcending recrimination and
"A genuine beacon of hope."
Editions ... has spent the last [fourteen] years bringing together Arabic
and Hebrew writers, modern and classic, on their excellent list...
What makes their books outstanding is the high quality and the variety—cultural,
linguistic, and stylistic—of the works themselves."
"Not for some time have I taken so much pleasure in
holding a book in my hands, turning it over and over,
touching its cover, flipping its pages just to hear the
sound they make.... Each book is like every other Ibis
Editions book and unlike everything else on the
bookshelf. Each book feels special, like the only one
printed, preserved for years in a dusty corner, now fallen
by chance into your hands. The reality is less rarified
and more interesting.... By showing us a Levant this
imaginative, beautiful, alive, and diverse, Ibis Editions
is–on a small scale–asserting that
the largest of America's publishers are threatened by a certain bottom-line-induced
intellectual and creative barrenness ... there yet remain pockets
of life, even fertility, amidst small publishers such as ... Ibis
Editions ... affirms the possibility of a Mid-East beyond the Mid-East.
In their unlikely juxtaposition, [Ibis's books] provide a glimpse
into a Levantine reality that offers something other than the images
from Baghdad ... televised for our benefit on a daily basis.... Their
list is impressive."
day will come when] the Jew will not be ashamed to find Arab elements
inside himself, and the Arab will not be ashamed to declare that he
also contains Jewish aspects.... I am a product of all the cultures
that have passed through this land--Greek, Roman, Persian, Jewish,
and Ottoman.... Each culture passed on, and left something behind.
I am a son to all these fathers, but I belong to a single mother.
Does that mean my mother is a whore? My mother is this land, which
absorbed us all, and was both a victim and a witness."