For years one of the world's leading authorities on Arabic literature and among modern Hebrew's most respected translators from contemporary Arabic poetry, Israel-Prize-winner Sasson Somekh has spent decades writing and teaching about a wide range of Middle Eastern cultural topics, and his personal and professional experience put him in a unique position to look back and reflect on the rich, startling, and now-vanished universe of mid-twentieth-century Baghdad.
hard to overstate the beauty, originality, lucidity, gentleness, wisdom
and importance of Baghdad, Yesterday."
that emerges from Baghdad, Yesterday is one of closeness, cooperation,
and a shared fate among the members of the city's different religions.
A letter [Somekh] received from the great Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz
could serve as the book's motto:
SASSON SOMEKH was
born in Baghdad in 1933 and moved to Israel in 1951. He began his career
as an Arabic poet and his early work appeared in the Arabic literary
magazines that were published in Iraq and Israel in the 1950s, though
he eventually opted for an academic career. After obtaining his doctorate
from Oxford, he returned to Israel and was one of the founders of the
Department of Arabic Language and Literature at Tel Aviv University.
He has published many books, including a ground-breaking monograph about
Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz and numerous collections
of translations of Arabic poetry. The former head of the Israeli Academic
Center in Cairo, he was awarded the Israel Prize in 2005 for his life's
Paperback $16.95 212
pages ISBN 965-90125-8-6
Publication Date: November 2007