By implementing his Muslim Ban, Donald Trump has, among other things, begun to slow the spread of ideas and stories across borders. Here are a few people we won’t be hearing from any time soon in the U.S., at least not in person.
Mohsen Emadi. Emadi is an exiled poet, who is currently residing in the United States but is leaving at the end of this week. Per his publisher, David Shook, of Phoneme Media:
Because of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, exiled Iranian poet Mohsen Emadi will be banned from returning to the United States following his departure next Friday.
Emadi’s first book to be translated into English, Standing on Earth (translated by Lyn Coffin) is available from Phoneme Media. It is unfortunate that he will be cut off from his publisher and his friends in the United States and will no longer be able to enrich our culture.
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi. Dowlatabadi is best-known in English translation for his novel The Colonel, deals deeply with the Islamic Revolution and oppressive governments. He is also a strong proponent of social and artistic freedom. All in all, he has won numerous international awards and has had his work translated into multiple languages. He would seemingly make an ideal visitor to the United States to help promote understanding between the U.S. and Iran, but under the current Executive Order, the 76-year-old Iranian citizen is too dangerous to be let in.
Khaled Khalifa. Khalifa is a major Syrian writer born in Aleppo who has been critical of the Syrian government and a signatory to a petition in solidarity with the Syrian people’s “dreams of justice, equality and freedom.” His novel In Praise of Hatred, about the conflicts between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian government arrived in English translation in 2014 from Thomas Dunne Books in Leri Price’s translation, garnering praise from The New York Times and The New Republic.
He is seemingly an ideal individual to help share the stories of the Syrian people and promote mutual understanding between nations, something he will not be doing in the Untied States any time soon.
Nadifa Mohamed. Somali-born author Mohamed became a refugee when the civil war in Somalia broke out during a temporary stay in the U.K. Fortunately for her, the politicians at the time did not decide to deport her back to Somalia.
It was a good thing, as she has proven a great asset to the culture. Her debut novel Black Mamba Boy (2009) was broadly acclaimed, being shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She has since been honored as one of the Africa39, as well as participating in literary festivals worldwide. A British-Somali dual citizen, it is unclear if she could now participate in festivals in the United States.
Mansour Bushnaf. As a university student journalist, Bushnaf was detained by the Gaddafi regime in 1976 and spent 12 years in prison. The obviously didn’t stop him from speaking truth to power, as the longtime essayist’s first novel, 2008’s Chewing Gum, was swiftly banned in Libya. It has circulated secretly throughout the Arab world and become a popular critique of the Gaddafi regime. The book was subsequently released in 2014 by Darf Publishers in London in a translation by Mona Zaki.
One hopes that Bushnaf does not further run afoul of the authorities in Libya and need asylum, as he would currently get no help from Trump’s government.
Hassan Blasim. Blasim is one of the most internationally regarded Iraqi authors, best known for his books The Iraqi Christ and The Corpse Exhibition (the former winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize). He is also a filmmaker, and he was forced to seek asylum in Finland in 2004 because of troubles encountered while making a film in northern Iraq.
Just 43 years old, Blasim is a rising star of world literature. It is unfortunate that readers and literary festivals in the United States will be deprived of this courageous, innovative, and increasingly famous author.
Betool Khedairi. Khedairi was born in Baghdad and currently lives in Jordan. Two of her books, Absent and A Sky So Close, have been translated into English. Her writing has been widely acclaimed throughout the Arab world.
Nadia Alkowkabani. Alkowkabani is the author of eight books of fiction, and her work has been translated into English, French, German, and Italian. Alkowkabani has not had an entire book translated into English, although some of her writing can be read in English translation here.
Ali al-Muqri. Al-Muqri has been longlisted for the Arab Booker Prize, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times. His 2012 novel Hurma appeared in Thomas Aplin’s English translation in 2015, and a new edition is forthcoming later this year from Darf Publishers. He currently lives in France, which presumably would make no difference so long as his citizenship remains Yemini.
Hammour Ziada. A Sudanese writer and journalist, Ziada won the Naguib Mahfouz Prize in 2014 for The Longing of the Dervish and has been nominated for the Arabic Booker Prize.
Dervish “examines the social conflict between white Christian and Islamic Sufi cultures in Sudan,” which would seemingly make him a very interesting guest to host in the United States. Unfortunately, not any time soon.