Khoury, Elias 1948–
Khoury, Elias 1948–
(Elias Khouri, Ilyas Khuri)
PERSONAL: Born 1948, in Beirut, Lebanon. Education: Studied at the Lebanese University and University of Paris.
CAREER: Journalist, literary critic, and playwright. Palestinian Liberation Organization Research Center, Beirut, Lebanon, 1973–79; Su'un Filastiniya, publisher, 1976–79; As-Safir, editor for literature, 1979–91; An-Nahar, Lebanon, editor-in-chief of cultural and literary supplement Mulhak, 1992–. Editorial board of Mawakif Quarterly; managing editor of Al Karmel Quarterly; professor at New York University, Columbia University, Lebanese University, American University of Beirut, and Lebanese American University.
AWARDS, HONORS: Lettre Ulysses Award, 2006; Palestinian Prize, for Gate of the Sun.
Little Mountain, translated by Maia Tabet, foreword by Edward W. Said, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1989.
Gates of the City, translated by Paula Haydar, foreword by Sabah Ghandour, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.
The Journey of Little Gandhi, translated by Paula Haydar, foreword by Sabah Ghandour, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.
The Kingdom of Strangers, translated by Paula Haydar, University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 1996.
Gate of the Sun, translated by Humphrey Davies, Archipelago Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Author of numerous stage plays.
SIDELIGHTS: Elias Khoury is a longtime journalist and scholar of the Middle East region. Born in Beirut, Khoury lived through the traumatic times of civil war, ethnic, and interreligious fighting of his and neighboring countries. Khoury joined the research center of the Palestinian Liberation Organization when he was in his early twenties only to move away from militancy and start his career in journalism. In addition to holding various professorships around the world, Khoury has published nearly a dozen novels and several stage plays, leading to his respected stature in Arab intellectual circles.
In 2005 an English-translated version of his novel Gate of the Sun was published. John Leonard noted in an article written for Harper's that with the publication of Gate of the Sun, "readers can no longer pretend that Palestine is merely a fugitive state of mind, a convenient Arab myth, a traumatic tribal memory, and somebody else's problem." The book mirrors the form of 1,001 Nights with the role of Scheherazade replaced by a Palestinian doctor in a refugee camp treating the story's hero, a resistance leader, while weaving a variety of tales across many locations and throughout time.
Reviews of Gate of the Sun were mostly positive. A critic in Kirkus Reviews noted that Khoury's "absorbing epic … reports events little known outside Palestine, woven into an elaborate but effective structure." The reviewer stated that even though "Khoury's sympathies are evident, he takes a wide and mostly evenhanded view of things political." Writing in the New Statesman, Samir el-Youssef noted his difficulty in getting through the text, saying that Gate of the Sun "is a challenging novel that demands from us an imagination potent enough to link its many loose threads." A critic in Publishers Weekly, however, commented that Khoury's ambitious, provocative, and insightful novel" was "well researched, deeply imagined, expressively written, and overtly nostalgic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Brendan Driscoll, review of Gate of the Sun, p. 29.
Harper's, January, 2006, John Leonard, review of Gate of the Sun, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2005, review of Gate of the Sun, p. 1292.
New Statesman, December 5, 2005, Samir el-Youssef, review of Gate of the Sun, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2005, review of Gate of the Sun, p. 27.
World Literature Today, summer, 1997, Issa Peters, review of The Kingdom of Strangers, p. 644.
Lettre Ulysses Award Web site, http://www.lettre-ulysses-award.org/ (April 19, 2006), biography of Khoury.
New York University Web site, http://www.nyu.edu/ (April 19, 2006), biography of Khoury.