Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Daunt Books’

Under My Wig

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013

Under My WigPalestinian flagsFew people have the opportunity to be a witness to a great sweep of history, let alone get the chance to be part of it. But Dr Jamal Nasir, who launched his autobiography “Under My Wig” (Gilgamesh. £19.95, with an foreword by myself) at Daunt’s bookshop in Holland Park Avenue this evening has had a truly outstanding life and career.  He grew up in Palestine during the British mandate before studying at the American University of Beirut during the Second World War. He then pursued legal studies in England before being called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1948 and going on to have a distinguished legal practice not only in London and Amman — having acquired Jordanian citizenship after the catastrophe of Palestinian dispossession — but also in Oman, China, Nigeria and elsewhere. He became Legal Advisor to His late Majesty King Hussein, working closely with Britain’s favourite foreign monarch for a quarter of a century. This led to his becoming Minister of Justice in Jordan, reorganising the whole legal system, and for a while he was Acting Foreign Minister. His travels as a Minister or accompanying the King meant that he had first-hand encounters with the good, the bad and the bizarre of the world’s leaders, from Germany’s Willy Brandt to China’s Chairman Mao and Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi. Accounts of such meetings enliven the content of Dr Nasir’s autobiography, as does his intimate insights into the nature and workings of the Jordanian royal family. Dr Nasir is already well-known in the legal profession for important works on the Status of Women in Islam and the Islamic Law of Personal Status, but this new work will introduce him to a wider audience. This evening he gave an impassioned speech about the ongoing injustices against the Palestinians (the subject of an earlier book, “Israeli Occupation and the Law of Belligerency”) and the way that Israel’s rulers act with impunity because of US and other Western support. But he also paid tribute to Jewish figures such as Dr Judah Magnes of the Hebrew University and Dr Avi Shlaim of Oxford who understood the reality of the situation. Even one of the founders of Israel, David Ben Gurion — who the young Jamal Nasir met on the London Underground — once declared, “If I were an Arab leader I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country.”

Link: http://www.gilgamesh-publishing.co.uk

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Tahrir: A Critical Explosion

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 26th January, 2012

What better way to celebrate in London the first anniversary of the 25 January Egyptian Revolutionary movement than to join a stimulating crowd of fellow hacks, human rights activists, Arabists and UK-based Atab intellectuals at the launch of a new book about the extraordinary events in Cairo last year by Abdel Latif El-Manawy, who had the job of overseeing news content at the state broadcaster, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), in the ancien régime’s final days? From his privileged insider position he was able –and willing — to tell Hosni Mubarak it was time to go, but that still makes him a controversial figure among many Egyptian revolutionaries who wonder quite how he was able to slide gracefully from the old situation into the new one in which the army has essentially been in charge. Mr El-Manawy last night described what happened at Tahrir Square as a ‘critical explosion’. I picked up my copy of ‘Tahrir: The Last 18 Days of Mubarak’ at the party thrown by Gilgamesh publishers at Daunt Books in Marylebone, so have not yet had the chance to read it. But I shall be fascinated to digest not only Abdel Latif’s El-Manawy’s take on the events between the first mass occupation of Tahrir Square and Mubarak’s stepping down, but also to see how he reconciles what he did at the head of an organisation essentially treading a tightrope between media objectivity and propaganda. In the meantime, I shall reserve judgement. Besides, everyone at the launch was too exhilirated by the events of the past year to carp, despite concerns about how successful Egypt’s revolution will prove to be in te end, and even deeper fears about the prognosis for Syria. But in the cold light of morning, we shall see. I shall review the book in due course.

Link: http://gilgamesh-publishing.co.uk

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Gilgamesh Launches at Daunt Books

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 27th October, 2011

The Arab world has become not so much flavour of the month as flavour of the year, thanks to the tumultuous events that started with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia last December and the blossoming of the so-called Arab Spring. So maybe it’s not surprisig that there is now a boom in publishing about the Arab world and of literature translated from Arabic. One welcome newcomer to the field is the London-based publishing house Gilgamesh, set up by Max Scott (former Managing Director of Stacey International) and several colleagues, Gilgamesh had its first launch last night at Daunt Books, that treasure-trove of travel writing in Marylebone High Street. The book being celebrated was Lament for Jerusalem by the veteran Palestinian author, historian and archaeologist Yasmine Zahran, who was educated at London University as well as Colombia, New York, before working for UNESCO in Paris. These days she divides her time between Paris and Ramallah, also travelling to research archaeological sites. She was on fine form at the Daunt launch last night, where an eclectic mix of guests from the worlds of academics, publishing, media and diplomacy wer treated to wine and canapés with a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour. I’ll be reviewing Lament for Jerusalem, which draws its inspiration from the 614AD sacking of that great city, shortly.

Links: www.gilgamesh-publishing.co.uk and www.dauntbooks.co.uk

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