Culture

A rehearsal by students at the School of Acting in Ramallah (photo: Folkwang Universität der Künste)

The Gaza conflict

Can art heal in a time of war?

War alters societies, and art can serve to gauge the change. In the war-struck Middle East, artists are hindered in their work, and some are forced to emigrate. Some feel a sense of hopelessness, while others still firmly believe in the healing capacity of art. Ulrike Schleicher reports on different reactions to the current crisis within the artistic communityMore

Murat Uyurkulak (photo: picture-alliance/Friedel Gierth)

Book review: "Embers" by Murat Uyurkulak

The oddballs of Ominosia

The Turkish writer Murat Uyurkulak's novel "Glut" (roughly translatable as "Embers") is a socially critical allegory of his homeland. Although not available in English, it has recently been published in German translation. Ceyda Nurtsch reports on a book that to the astonishment of its author has escaped the sharp eye of the censors in TurkeyMore

Khaled the tailor in front of his shop with its new logo, Amman, Jordan (photo: Essa Almasri/Wajha)

Art and Design in Jordan

A facelift for Amman's artisanal businesses

Custom-made logos, individual lettering, business cards to match – corporate design is something of a luxury in Jordan, especially for small artisan businesses with little or no advertising budgets. Now, two young graphic designers in Amman are coming to their aid with some fresh ideas. By Daniela SchroederMore

Judith Katzir (photo: private)

Interview with the Jewish author Judith Katzir

Friendship across the divide

Judith Katzir is one of the most interesting young authors in Israel. Her books deal mostly with strong women who undertake journeys into their own past. Her new novel, "Tzila", is based on letters belonging to her great-grandmother and describes her journey to Gaza, where her Jewish family once lived. Igal Avidan spoke to the authorMore

Simin Tander (photo: simintander.com)

The German-Afghan jazz singer Simin Tander

An unknown homeland

Simin Tander has undertaken a musical journey to her roots and to herself. The means of transport are varied: poems in Pashto, English and French, a jazz quartet and a finely nuanced, expressive alto voice. The destination is an exceptional album that transcends the boundaries between jazz, singer-songwriting and world music. Simin Tander's new album impresses listeners with its deep sensitivity and disarming honesty. By Stefan FranzenMore

Hartmut Faehndrich (photo: Ruth Renée Reif)

Interview with literary translator Hartmut Faehndrich

"What I don't see is an on-going interest in Arabic literature"

Hartmut Faehndrich is one of the most renowned translators of Arabic literature in the German-speaking world. He has translated nearly 60 novels into German. In this interview with Ruth Renée Reif, he explains why Arabic literature is undervalued in the German-speaking worldMore

Yahya Hassan during a reading of his poetry (photo: dpa)

The Young Danish poet Yahya Hassan

Whiz kid from the ghetto

Barely 18 years old, Yahya Hassan has thrilled readers and enriched Denmark's literary scene with his first volume of poetry. He also polarises opinion. Daniel Bax on Denmark's new poetry sensationMore

Quraishi (photo: Evergreene Music)

Album review: "Mountain Melodies" by Quraishi

Keeping the voice of Afghanistan alive

Despite the beauty of Afghan rubab music, it is not well known outside the country and, according to Richard Marcus, infrequently heard inside Afghanistan too. On his new album, "Mountain Melodies", the Afghan-born rubab player Quraishi shares the austere beauty and intricacy of this music and demonstrates his virtuosityMore

Cigdem Aslan (photo: Handan Erek)

Portrait: the singer Cigdem Aslan

Songs of the outcasts

Rebetiko is a musical genre that describes the emotionally charged songs of Greeks who were expelled from Turkey in the wake of the population exchange of 1923. Cigdem Aslan, a young Kurd from London, lends her powerful voice to the stories behind these songs. By Marian BrehmerMore

Protest rally in Istanbul, one year after the Gezi demonstrations. Photo: Ali Yildirim

A literary anthology of the Gezi protests

Gezi lives!

In "Gezi – A Literary Anthology", a volume of essays that was recently published in German, 19 Turkish authors and a photographer reflect on the motivation and dynamics of the Gezi movement. By Astrid KaminskiMore

Emrah Serbes. Photo: Iletisim Yayinlari

Portrait of the Turkish writer Emrah Serbes

"Politics is made on the street by the people"

The young author Emrah Serbes is regarded as the "enfant terrible" of Turkish literature. Not only is he one of the most popular authors in Turkey: since the protests in Gezi Park last summer and his active participation in the resistance, many now seen him as the "writer and voice of the people". Ceyda Nurtsch met him at a reading in BerlinMore

Thomas Ostermeier. Photo: Ali Güler. © Thomas Ostermeier

Interview with Thomas Ostermeier

"An Enemy of the People" in Istanbul

Thomas Ostermeier is the artistic director of the Berlin Schaubühne and one of the most creative figures among the younger generation of German theatre directors. His productions are incisive and provocative – something he demonstrated again recently at this year's theatre festival in Istanbul with Henrik Ibsen's play "An Enemy of the People". He spoke to Anna EsserMore

Cover of "I Remember Beirut" by Zeina Abirached, published by Graphic Universe

Lebanese comic artist Zeina Abirached

Seeing war through the eyes of a child

The Lebanese artist Zeina Abirached grew up during the country’s 15-year civil war. In her comic books, she describes how her family experienced the horror of this brutal conflict. Juliane Metzker talked to herMore

The exterior of the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization (photo: sharjamuseums.ae)

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

Vatican treasures in the Gulf

The Vatican is pursuing a new policy of openness towards other faiths and co-operation between religions, a policy that is reflected in a very special exhibition in the Emirate of Sharjah, the neighbouring emirate to Dubai. This exhibition shows the full breadth and reach of Islam. By Werner BlochMore

Cover of the book Alev Cukurkavakli by Sabahattin Ali

Sabahattin Ali's novel "Yusuf"

A modern-day Odysseus

The works of Sabahattin Ali are widely read classics in Turkey. The author suffered throughout his life from censorship and repression, yet his novels, with their modern multi-perspective narrative style and skilled social criticism, still hold up a mirror to the powers that be. Now, his novel "Yusuf" has been translated into German and published. By Volker KaminskiMore

Mohamed Choukri in Casablanca on 5 November 2000 (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Tenth anniversary of the death of Mohamed Choukri

The "White Nightingale" of Tangier

The Moroccan writer Mohamed Choukri may have died over a decade ago, but the debate surrounding his controversial work continues in conservative Morocco to this day. Aziz Dariouchi on the discourse surrounding Choukri's literary legacyMore

Joumana Haddad (photo: Ceyda Nurtsch)

Interview with Joumana Haddad

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"I don't believe in female solidarity"

The Lebanese journalist and writer Joumana Haddad is considered one of the most courageous women's rights activists in the Arab world. In this interview with Ceyda Nurtsch, she talks about the erotic magazine "Jasad", feminist stereotypes and why the "Arab Spring" was just another winterMore

Jubilant mujahideen on a captured Russian armoured personnel carrier during the war between Afghanistan and the USSR (photo: Getty Images)

Book review: Fadia Faqir's "Willow Trees Don't Weep"

Abandoned for the sake of jihad

Since the 9/11 attacks in the USA, many novels have been written about aspects of Islamist radicalism and the "war on terror". The Jordanian–British writer Fadia Faqir brings fresh perspectives to the subject in her fourth novel "Willow Trees Don't Weep". Susannah Tarbush read the bookMore

Diala Brisly (photo: Diala Brisly)

Interview with the Syrian artist Diala Brisly

Art is a luxury in Syria

Civil war has ravaged Syria and many of its ancient cultural treasures. Syrian artist Diala Brisly, who left Syria about a year ago and now lives and works in Istanbul, says that although very few artists are still working in Syria, the country's art scene is flourishing abroad. Interview by Susanne DicklMore

Performance of the Kurdish play "The Pains of Language" in Berlin (photo: Jillian Hoppe)

The Kurdish theatre company Teatra Si

Out of the cellars and onto the stage

The Kurdish-language theatre scene has been developing in Turkey since the 1990s. One group committed to promoting Kurdish language and art is Teatra Si, a theatre company from Istanbul. Ceyda Nurtsch met with its members in Berlin at the start of their European tourMore

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