Column: Arab Literature
Belal Fadl and Emily O'Dell.
"Thirty-seven-year-old Fadl has been a hit in Egypt for some time — his book A Chagrined Laugh, for instance, was one of the top sellers at the 2010 Cairo International Book Fair." ©
Belal Fadl and Emily O'Dell.
Last updated: April 29, 2013

Will Egyptian satirist Belal Fadl be funny in English?

The United States has perhaps the most lucrative humor-production industry worldwide, “translateable” by virtue of the nation’s economic and military dominance. The world is ready to laugh at a George Bush-surrrrre-is-stupid quip while not necessarily being ready to catch a fastball about Danilo Türk. But can Egyptian humor — which of course is light years funnier than the top-selling American brands — be rendered in English?*

Last month, the Wall Street Journal asked that question when writing about best-selling Egyptian comic writer Belal Fadl’s new project: A comedic film being co-written, in the U.S., with Emily O’Dell (pictured above with Fadl).

Thirty-seven-year-old Fadl has been a hit in Egypt for some time — his book A Chagrined Laugh, for instance, was one of the top sellers at the 2010 Cairo International Book Fair. Blogger-critic Baheyya notes that Fadl isn’t just funny, but that he can also do “beautiful description” and “eloquent, evocative allegory”.

The WSJ blog focuses on Fadl’s troubles with Egyptian authorities. There’s also a video, but I can’t seem to get it to work, so I rely on you to watch it.

Also: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing plans to release a short story collection by Belal Fadl (in English) by winter 2013.

Also: In the US with Bassem Youssef.

*Yes, if done with the right touch. Mostly. Yes.

Marcia Lynx Qualey
Marcia is a writer and reader who runs a popular blog on Arab Literature, a subject that she also covers for Your Middle East in her biweekly column. Visit: http://arablit.wordpress.com/
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