Cairo, Asharq Al Awsat – ‘The Blue Aubergine’ by Egyptian author Miral Al Tahawy has finally been translated into Danish recently, and has been published by the Underskoven publishing house in Copenhagen. Underskoven selected a range of 180 books by Arab authors published in Arabic and other languages. The elimination process, however, led to the decision that ‘The Blue Aubergine’ would be translated into Danish from German by Marianne Madelung. Other books by Arab authors such as Huda Barakat, Hanan al Sheikh and Ibrahim Nasrallah will also be translated into the Danish language at a later stage. Miral Al Tahawy’s book has already been translated into Italian by Paolo Viviani.
During the Images from the Middle East Festival in Denmark, Al Tahawy read excerpts from ‘The Blue Aubergine’ in four Danish cities. The autobiographical style of the book recounts the story of a society that faces the dangers of decline and disintegration, namely the Egyptian Bedouin society. Al Tahawy, herself from an Egyptian Bedouin background, has succeeded, according to Arabist Isabelle Kamira Di Avlito, in grasping the different aspects of this type of society, including the poetic and realistic elements, to relate a sense of tenderness and nostalgia to the reader.
Al Tahawy emerged from a traditional society where she lived amongst strange manifestations of the imagination in a world that was incredibly rich in lyricism. She succeeds in presenting that through a large and diverse collection of songs and odes, which she obviously took pains to compile and transcribe in an attempt to preserve them.
The novel, according to the author, is an attempt to express the view of an entire generation with regard to slogans and ideological statements that have resulted in various forms of oppression and dissatisfaction. Al Tahawy tried to write without resorting to the aesthetics contributed by her generation or by herself. Hers is an attempt to ascertain her presence through awareness and at times, pain, in an open manner.
Al Tahawy also read extracts from ‘The Blue Aubergine’ at the Literature Festival in Vienna and had her book featured on the front page of an Austrian book review magazine.
The Blue Aubergine was first published in Arabic by Dar Sharqiyat in Cairo in 1998 and later by Dar al Adab in Beirut in 2001. In 2002, the publishing house Maktabat al Usra in Cairo published her novel. She was awarded the Cairo Book Fair Prize in 2002.
Miral Al Tahawy’s other publications include, the collection of short stories entitled ‘The Exceptional Steppe Antelope’, ‘The Gazelle’s Walk’ and ‘The Tent’ which has been translated into 15 languages.