Memories of Our Future: Selected Essays 1982-1999

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City Lights Books, 1999 - 292 pages

Voted one of the Top 25 Books of 1999 by the Village Voice.

As a poet, translator, critic, and scholar, Ammiel Alcalay has written for The New York Times, The Village Voice, The New Republic, and Middle east Report, as well as for such literary journals as Grand Street, Conjunctions, and Paper Air. In Memories of Our Future, the unique intellectual and political path forged by Alcalay over the past fifteen years has now been collected in one volume. In a mix of personal narrative, political commentary, and literary criticism, Alcalay surveys diverse subjects, among them Mediterranean culture, Arabic literature, the destruction of Carthage, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the war in Bosnia.

"In the truest sense, the essays in Memories of Our Future bear witness to events and ideas that shape the world. Poet, translator, scholar, Ammiel Alcalay brings to any subject an acute sensitivity to writing and a sophisticated understanding of the way politics works to produce and maintain literature. Whether thinking about diaspora, memory, modernism, sacred texts, or Juan Goytisolo, he attends to voices that are excluded or silenced. Ammiel Alcalay is a unique and important figure in contemporary world literature." --Lynne Tillman, author of No Lease On Life

"Few contemporary intellectuals can boast of as diverse a range of skills and talents as Ammiel Alcalay. His work is cosmopolitan in the best sense: in an epoch of superficial globalism his approach to the cultures he deals with is always rigorous, always meticulously respectful of particularities and differences. Unlike many contemporary literary theoreticians, he is also profoundly alive to the social and political realities that shape cultural production. There is no one better qualified to explore the meaning of today's 'culture wars', locally and globally." --Amitav Ghosh, author of The Glass Palace

"An outstanding anthology of essays surveying the complexities of Mediterranean cultures; the diverse, changing space of the Balkans, Middle East, and North Africa--areas of diasporas, dislocations, and genocidal exterminations provoked by nationalism and religious fanaticism. Of special interest are his observations and analysis of the Israeli/Palestinian confrontation, Arab/Jewish poetics, and Jewish identity in America."--Midwest Book Review

Ammiel Alcalay is poet, translator, critic, and scholar who teaches at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of, among other books, After Jews and Arabs (1993); The Cairo Notebooks (1993); Memories of Our Future (1999); From the Warring Factions (2002); Scrapmetal (2007), and A Little History (2010). He was one of the initiators of the Poetry Is News Coalition, and helped to organize the Olson Now project. He launched Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, a publishing venture whose mission is to retrieve and make available key texts falling widely under the rubric of the New American Poetry.


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Alcalay (classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian languages and culture, CUNY; After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Leventine Culture) is a Sephardic Jew whose parents were Yugoslavian. Selected from writings ... Read full review


weighing the losses like stones in your hand
Poetry Tradition and
For Edouard Roditi
On Arabesques
Wounded Kinships Last Resort
In True Colors
The State of the Gulf Abdelrahman Munif and Hanan alShaykh
Palestinians and Israelis Meet in Spain
Quality Control
Reflections at the End of 1992
Notes on Ethnicity and Literary History
Speaking with Forked Tongues or Parables of Equilibrium
The Alcalay Dictionary of Levantine Culture
Under Siege
ForZa Sarajevo

The war was ending the diasporas beginning
Prolonging a Farce

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About the author (1999)

Ammiel Alcalay is a poet, translator, critic and scholar who teaches at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center, where he is the Deputy Chair of the PhD Program in English. His latest work is Scrapmetal (Factory School, 2006). He is also editor and translator of Keys to the Garden and Semezdin Mehmedinovic's Sarajevo Blues, both published by City Lights. Born in Barcelona in 1931, Juan Goytisolo is Spain's greatest living writer. His books include: Mask of Idenity, The Marx Family Saga and State of Siege. He lives in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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