Saturday, May 11 @5pm
Capital Books

Jordan Elgrably is a Franco-American and Moroccan writer and translator, whose stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous anthologies and reviews, including Apulée, Salmagundi, and The Paris Review. Editor-in-chief and founder of The Markaz Review, he is the co-founder and former director of the Levantine Cultural Center/The Markaz in Los Angeles (2001-2020). His work on behalf of the arts and cultures of the Middle East/North Africa have won many awards and major grants, including the Rachel Corrie Conscience and Courage Award from the ADC. Jordan Elgrably is the editor of Stories From the Center of the World: New Middle East Fiction (City Lights 2024). He is based in Montpellier, France, and California.


Short stories from 25 emerging and established writers of Middle Eastern and North African origins, a unique collection of voices and viewpoints that illuminate life in the global Arab/Muslim world.

Stories from the Center of the World gathers new writing from the greater Middle East or SWANA — a vast region that stretches from Southwest Asia, through the Middle East and Turkey, and across Northern Africa. The 25 authors included here come from a wide range of cultures and countries, including Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco, to name a few.

In “Asha and Haaji,” Hanif Kureishi takes up the cause of outsiders who become uprooted when war or disaster strikes and they flee for safe haven. In Nektaria Anastasiadou’s “The Location of the Soul According to Benyamin Alhadeff,” two students in Istanbul from different classes—and religions that have often been at odds with one another—believe they can overcome all obstacles. MK Harb’s story, “Counter Strike,” is about queer love among Beiruti adolescents, and Salar Abdoh’s “The Long Walk of the Martyrs” invites us into the world of former militants, fighters who fought ISIS or Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and are having a hard time readjusting to civilian life. In “Eleazar,” Karim Kattan tells an unexpected Palestinian story in which the usual antagonists—Israeli occupation forces—are mostly absent, while another malevolent force seems to overtake an unsuspecting family. Omar El Akkad’s “The Icarist” is a coming-of-age story about the underworld in which illegal immigrants are forced to live, and what happens when one dares to break away.