An evening at the Levantine Cultural Center explores Pakistan and Pakistani-American identity, with special guest Shahan Mufti, author of the new book The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War. Joining Shahan Mufti in conversation are two other American artists born in Pakistan, actor/writer and comedienne Mona Shaikh and painter/animator and writer Adnan Hussain. After Shahan Mufti presents his book on Pakistan, the three young Pakistani Americans will engage in a free-ranging conversation on politics, immigration, identity and the arts. Everyone is welcome and a Q & A with the audience will ensue.
About The Faithful Scribe former US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker has written, "If you want to understand Pakistan and the Pakistani-American relationship, read this book." Lesley Hazleton, author of The First Muslim and After The Prophet, writes, "After reading Shahan Mufti, a political junkie like me feels as though she's begun to understand Pakistan for the first time. Movingly and compellingly written, The Faithful Scribe is invaluable reading for anyone who's ever asked 'What's really happening there?'" The New Yorker notes that Mufti's "talent for explaining the political through the personal—particularly the 'tormented embrace' between his home countries—benefits from the uncanny convergence of his family's milestones with Pakistan's."
On Thurs., Jan. 16, Bernard Radfar, author of the satirical epistolary collection Insincerely Yours, Letters From a Prankster, and now the novel, Mecca Pimp, a Novel of Love and Human Trafficking, will be in conversation live at the Levantine Cultural Center with serial interviewer Jordan Elgrably (James Baldwin, Milan Kundera, Nadine Gordimer, Harold Brodkey, Gilbert Sorrentino, Amy Tan, Edward Said et al), discussing the characters and situations in Mecca Pimp, in which the fictional Mary and Mark Black run a human trafficking empire in Saudi Arabia until Mary jets off to New York City. Whether their love endures is the subject of the novel.
We are raising funds for our project "Heroes of the Middle East & North Africa." This initiative proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
The "Heroes" mural is an educational experience and an anti-war statement that intends to humanize the Middle East and North Africa, following on the heels of the Arab Spring. The mural will be completed early in 2014 and will grace the wall of the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Israeli American activist and author Miko Peled has toured widely presenting his book The General's Son: the Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Dr. Laila Al-Marayati is a Palestinian American physician and activist with KinderUSA. They join in public conversation on the Israel-Palestine question at the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:00 pm. The program is cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-LA. Everyone is invited to participate. Enjoy food/drink in our Café Rumi.
Writes Alice Walker in her foreword:
"There are few books on the Israel/Palestine issue that seem as hopeful as this one. First of all, we find ourselves in the hands of a formerly Zionist Iraeli who honors his people, loves his homeland, respects and cherishes his parents, other family members and friends, and is, to boot, the son of a famous general whose activities during Israel's wars against the Palestinian people helped cause much of their dislocation and suffering. Added to this, long after Miko Peled, the writer, has left the Special Forces of the Israeli army and moved to Southern California to teach karate, a beloved niece, Smadar, a young citizen of Jerusalem, is killed by Palestinians in a suicide bombing. Right away we think: Goodness. How is he ever going to get anywhere sane with this history? He does."
On Wed., Nov. 6, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal and activist Hamid Khan will discuss "LAPD Spying: Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, and the Israel Connection" in a public forum in the Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy series. The program takes place at the Levantine Cultural Center.
As Dan Bluemel notes, "The federal government has been busy since the passing of the Patriot Act in 2001. Edward Snowden, an NSA whistle-blower, recently revealed that the NSA has been secretly storing vast amounts of digital information collected from millions of Americans' cell phone calls and Internet communications. Thanks to Snowden, citizens now have a much better idea of how busy their spy agencies have been, and who they have been targeting. However, one group, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, is trying to alert people in Los Angeles to the fact that domestic spying doesn't just happen at NSA headquarters in Maryland. Spying is local too, they say, and we can look no further than the Los Angeles Police Department."
"A truly incredible story," says Ira Glass of This American Life. Kirk Johnson is the author of To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind, a moving, hard-hitting book about the plight of Iraqis who worked—often as interpreters—with the US Army and its affiliates. A memoir and a call to action, the book details his work in Iraq and his struggle to rescue the Iraqis who risked their lives to help rebuild the country, only to be branded collaborators and marked for assassination after being abandoned by the US.
Writing in the Boston Globe, Rayyan Al-Shawaf notes, "Part memoir, part impassioned plea, Johnson's book traces his experiences in Iraq, his personal breakdown, and his struggle to rescue the legions of young, idealistic Iraqis left behind by US administrations plagued by post-9/11 paranoia and gridlock. Because militants continue to kill such people despite the US withdrawal, it is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this."
Johnson will discuss his book and his organization, The List Project to resettle Iraqi allies. This event is a benefit for the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Levantine Cultural Center, two nonprofits that champion literacy. More.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrmination Committee presents a Southern California banquet in memory of Alex Odeh and to benefit the ADC's local chapters. The Memorial Banquet will be held Saturday, October 19 at the Newport Beach Marriott and features a keynote speech from Amy Goodman, the Host and Executive Producer of Democracy Now! For more information,
Musical artist Sahba Motallebi and poet Sholeh Wolpé, masters of their craft, create a collaborative program highlighting the beauty of Persian music and international poetry in English, including Wolpé's work, Tahirih, Forugh Farrokhzad and a performance of Walt Whitman's poetry in English and Persian. They will perform together Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 (date reset from 10/10/13) in an intimate evening with limited seating. If you love poetry and classical-traditional Persian music, you'll want to attend this performance.
Tickets $20, $15 students and members of the Levantine Cultural Center, $25 at the door. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Coffees, teas and small plates available in Café Rumi. Open bar. This performance generously cosponsored by Anonymous donors. (To learn how you can underwrite Middle Eastern arts, contact us at 310.657.5511.)
The Library Foundation of Los Angeles' ALOUD series with support from the Levantine Cultural Center presents an evening of stories and conversation bridging Iran and America. In her new collection of selected stories, Goli Taraghi, who is one of Iran's best-known and most critically acclaimed authors, draws on her childhood experiences in Tehran, adult exile in Paris, and subsequent returns to post-revolution Tehran.
Taraghi's stories are, as Azar Nafisi writes, "filled with passion, curiosity, empathy, as well as mischief-definitely mischief." Listen in as Taraghi shares from The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons, made fully accessible to the English-speaking audience for the first time. A discussion ensues moderated by Reza Aslan, author most recently of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Reserve here.
Join us when we present our Middle East book booth and welcome authors Shohreh Aghdashloo, Hussein Banai, Kitty Pilgrim and others at the West Hollywood Book Fair, celebrating its 12th edition on Sunday, September 29th. We will also feature a MIddle East drum circle with frame drums, led by Rowan Storm, along with artist Adnan Hussein. This year's festival will feature literature, art, music, performance and community in an eclectic presentation. The program will welcome treasured Southern California literary luminary, T.C. Boyle, who will present his brand-new collected stories. The ever-entertaining Boyle is sure to be a Book Fair highlight. Many other terrific writers will perform and discuss new and recently published works, including Debbie Reynolds, William Friedkin, Lynda Obst, Victoria Chang, Aaron Hartzler, D.H. Pelligro, Veronica Reyes, and many more to be announced.