Fall 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 4 Luminous Gender Vessel |

Who Will Play Salaheddin?

Everything had to be put on hold until we found the right person. It wasn’t funny. When Scorpion the son led us into that office one day — it was creepy, had evidently been kept locked for years — we didn’t expect to be shown a statue. It was a head and torso, instantly recognizable. He told us that Scorpion the father, a military man who had passed away with his medals decades ago, had deeply admired Salaheddin the Conqueror. He hardly needed to say any more. Finding a screenplay wasn’t an issue; that was the easy part, in fact. But how were we going to find the right person, an actor compelling enough and with enough gravitas, to play Salaheddin? The producer and I agreed to meet in his office the next morning to look through the options. On my way, I walked down a corridor of chessboard tiles; the contrast between the two colors was brilliant, vivid, pulsing with life, unlike the routine activity taking place in the office above, with its sullen employees and

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Rasha Abbas is a Syrian writer and journalist based in Berlin, where she is culture editor at prominent Syrian opposition media outlet Aljumhuriya.net. Her debut short story collection, Adam Hates TV [in Arabic] (al-Amana al-ʿamma li-htifaliyyat Dimashq ʿasimat al-thaqafa, 2008), was awarded a prize for emerging writers at the Damascus Capital of Arab Culture festival, and her collections The Invention of German [in Arabic] (10/11 Publishing Group, 2016) and The Gist of It [in Arabic] (Dar al-Mutawassit, 2017) have both been translated into German to critical acclaim.

Photo of Katharine Halls

Katharine Halls is an Arabic-to-English translator from Cardiff, Wales. She was awarded a 2021 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for her translation of Haytham El-Wardany’s Things That Can’t Be Fixed. Her translation of Ahmed Naji’s prison memoir, Rotten Evidence, has been published by McSweeney's, and her translation of Shady Lewis’s On the Greenwich Line will be published by Peirene in 2024.

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