Mazen Maarouf has been a guest writer in Reykjavik, Iceland, since November 2011. While residing as a guest writer he has translated several poems by Icelandic poets into Arabic and they have been published in newspapers and magazines in Beirut, Abu Dhabi and London.
Maarouf says he finds translating Icelandic literature a very interesting experience for me as an ICORN writer in Reykjavik city. It is a sort of interaction with a literature that I knew almost knowing nothing about before I came to Iceland. It was important for me that I didn't get to be a passive writer looking forward to introduce his works to the Icelanders, but taking the initiative to translate works by Icelanders and distribute them in the Middle East. He adds that he views Interaction between "distant" cultures and literature is an ethical mission. And that he believes that we have to try however possible to build up the bridge that connects the cultures together.
When Maarouf was given a copy of "The Blue Fox" from its author Sjón he wrote a review on it and he was then contacted by a publishing house in Beirut (Ed. Dar Al-Saqi) that wanted to publish an Arabic version of the book.
Maarouf describes Sjón's writing as a kind of blend of mystery, reality and myth. And the esthetic level of the language is a kind of 19th century literary language. The writer controls the narration and time, but also keeps a very delicate language throughout the work, which keeps the size of the novel brief, but very condensed and symbolic. Maarouf explains that he finds it very important that the Arab reader gets to read a work that matches with a different culture in a totally different context. Simply because different artworks and different "unexpected" topics enriches the culture and opens up (hopefully) new trends in styles of writing and thinking. Besides, the novel traces the very tiny paths of "separate" individuals and twists them. This represents a microscopic sample of the daily crowded life of every one of us. It proves that politics don't interfere directly in your daily life, but sometimes very indirectly and we find ourselves trapped in the secondary or even tertiary consequence of political or ideological system. In the Middle East, people usually rely on magnified political events to build up literature. This may be because the life in the Middle East is surrounded from all sides by politics. But this novel proves that minimal issues also matters and really deserves to be discussed.
The book can be ordered from the publishing house Dar Al saqi, contact Manal Chamoun, email@example.com, or Issam Abou Hamdan, firstname.lastname@example.org