17 Dec 2012

Imagined Transcript of Al-Akhbar’s Interview With Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa

Al-Akhbar today published an important interview with Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa. We tried to obtain the transcript but weren't able to, so we tried to reconstruct it from Al-Akhbar's version:

AA: What is your opinion about what’s happening now in Syria?
FAS: In the beginning let me say they I trust the wisdom of Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and I admire the resilience of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. They could have played an important role in reaching an early political solution to the Syrian crisis. Obviously, what we need is a 100% Syrian solution to this crisis.

AA: What is your vision for a solution?
FAS:  Did I mention that I trust the wisdom of Iran’s spiritual leader? And Hassan Nasrallah? Because they are instrumental to any Syrian-Syrian solution to the crisis.

Julian Assange: Diary of a Hidden Messiah

How Klaus Kinski might look in the role of Julian Assange
To satisfy public curiosity about Julian Assange’s life inside the Ecuador embassy, we are publishing excerpts from his diary. We won’t comment on how we obtained these documents.

Day 27
I woke up with a stiff neck this morning. It comes from my habit of sleeping with my arms stretched perpendicular to me body and my neck head tilted to the side. Like Jesus. In his own way, Jesus was a kind of Julian Assange. He took information that was guarded in secret by the rabbis and opened it up to everyone.

14 Dec 2012

10 Dec 2012

The Secular Idiot’s Guide to Syria’s Jihadist Groups

The proliferation of radical Islamist groups fighting in Syria is beginning to resemble the Jihadi Olympics in the words of one observer. (Me). They span the entire political spectrum, from extreme militant Salafist to Nihilist Al-Qaeda franchise. But to the untrained eye it’s difficult to tell them apart or know what each stands for. So we prepared this brief but handy guide to help you differentiate between The Lions of Damascus Brigades and The Damascus Lions Brigade. As a general rule, the more hard consonants there are in a group’s name, the more hardcore they are. Groups with 3 vowels or more are often dismissed as ‘liberals’.

8 Dec 2012

The Guardian's Editorial on Egypt Re-Imagined

This Guardian editorial on the crisis in Egypt was written on 7 December 2012. Below is the same editorial re-imagined as if it were written in January 2011, with minor changes like replacing Morsi with Mubarak. Makes for interesting reading. 

As the crisis in Egypt develops, it is becoming increasingly clear what it is not about. It is not about the elections, or the economic crisis, or Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Nor is it about the arrangements for a successor to the president. Nor even is it about the temporary but absolute powers that the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, assumed for himself – for a mere thirty years, and which will lapse the moment the Egyptian people stop making a fuss.

5 Dec 2012

Morsi's Twelve Days of Christmas

President Morsi of Egypt is having an eventful period recently, which we are commemorating with this adaptation of The Twelve Days of Christmas:

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
One hell of a decree...

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve Salafists screaming,
Eleven newspapers a-striking,
Ten feloul a-weeping,
Nine protesters a-chanting,
Eight opposition leaders a-spying,
Seven judges a-declining,
Six IMF geese a-loaning,
Five palace-fleeing wings,
Four foolish words, (Planet of the Apes)
Three State Department friends,
Two Israeli doves,
And one hell of a decree! 

23 Nov 2012

Arab Spring Chess

Introducing Arab Spring Chess, a form of three-way chess which captures the essence of the Arab Spring. The game is very simple to play, standard chess rules apply. The board has been slightly modified to reflect reality. Click on the image to enlarge.

19 Oct 2012

Interview with The Guardian on the Situation in Syria

I was interviewed by The Guardian about the situation in Syria, the role of the SNC and other opposition groups, and the general prospects of the Syrian uprising. Read an excerpt here or listen to the audio version here.

9 Oct 2012

Slavoj Žižek: Romney, Big Bird, and the prospect of avian apocalypse

A brilliant take by Slavoj Žižek about Romney and Big Bird, which I am republishing here with complete disregard to copyrights.

The bourgeois media and the Democratic party machine were confounded by Mitt Romney’s invocation of Big Bird during the first US presidential debate, a sentiment that soon gave way to cynical amusement and playground mockery. But Romney had inadvertently revealed a deep truth about the Capitalist canon’s troubled relationship with oversized birds. Birds at once represent freedom, a visual cliché widely used by Liberal parties around the world depicting a bird in flight, never in repose, and the possibility of being devoured by the feathered creatures that have learned to negotiate gravity far better than un-mechanised humans could ever do. Romney’s Big Bird metaphor deserves more analysis than it was given by the mainstream media arm of the post-wage capitalist complex.

Icarus meets Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was a seminal revelatory moment of this troubled relationship with avian species that capitalism has obsessed about. Hitchcock’s vision was the inverted dystopia of that fragile peace we have established with birds through an economy of breadcrumbs. It is not accidental that the Reagan-Thatcher trickle-down effect has also been discussed in terms of breadcrumbs. Abandoning social safety nets for the sake of an organic redistribution mechanism driven by aggressive growth was a central pillar of the Late Capitalist Order of the 80s, the Thatcherite fantasy of forcing more and more people to leave the perceived safety of the welfare state nest, if you excuse the pun.

4 Oct 2012

The Louvre Islamic Wing - BBC Radio 3 Night Waves Programme

Listen to the BBC Radio 3 Night Waves Programme about the new Louvre Islamic Wing, broadcast on 25 September 2012. We discuss the political context around the gallery, its architecture and the fantastic art works exhibited. We also visit a different type of institution that deals with Islamic art and culture, L’Institut des Cultures d’Islam and talk to its director, Véronique Rieffel.  

On Middle East Expertise: The Decline of Narrative

Since the beginning of the Arab uprisings I must have read hundreds of analytical and opinion pieces about the dynamics of the revolts and the role that external powers are playing. The one thing that stands out clearly to me after nearly two years is the total lack of a principled approach among the multitude of analysts and experts writing about the region. While it’s clear that many are now sceptical about the notion of expertise itself, I myself still believe in the role that specialised analysts can play based on extensive study of the historic literature and thorough observation of current developments.

Such a cold analytical approach seems to be at odds with the visceral emotive form of discourse that revolutions produce, but also with the humanitarian prism through which we now almost exclusively see events in other parts of the world. It’s probably that context that is responsible for both the proliferation and impotence of expertise. We are approaching a point at which independent detached observation is becoming obsolete, despite the fact that it is urgently needed.

2 Oct 2012

Pamela Geller: A Letter of Love to Muslimics

In her continuing effort to build bridges with the Arab world, we have received the following article from Pamela Geller which we are publishing below. We decided to keep Ms. Geller's unique style of grammar and punctuation in the interest of authenticity, even though it doesn't resemble the English language as everyone else understands it. 

To Muslimanics everywhere, I say I have a message of love. I love for you to stay where you are. Stop coming to America and, trying to change our freedom-loving ways. You notice that I am big on love. You must have seen the famous photo of me, I am wearing a necklace that says ‘LOVE’. Someone once told me that’s ironic. But I didn’t understand his fancy liberal university talk.

Claire Danes and 'Homeland' in Beirut

In the new season of the American series 'Homeland', Claire Danes' character, a CIA agent, visits Beirut. The scenes were actually filmed in Israel for an unexplained reason. The first image is a still from the series, in a place that doesn't look like Beirut at all. We offer these alternative images. 

26 Sept 2012

Mona Eltahawy reflects on her subway mission. Sort of.

Mona Eltahawy reflects on her subway mission.* 

When I woke up in the morning, a habit I had acquired while living as a young girl in Saudi Arabia, there were many thoughts running through my head. This was going to be a big day. Pamela Geller had succeeded in her stunt to attract attention to herself by winning the case to place her Islamophobic ads on the New York subway.

I hate Islamophobia. I believe in the right of Muslims to practice their religion freely in the West. But not to wear a veil obviously. That’s a symbol of male domination. In that case, I support French politicians and the French police. The universally recognized agents of women’s liberation.

14 Sept 2012

See you in Beirut, Wajih.

It's a cruel twist of fate when I have to mourn a dear friend that I have never met. I have never seen Wajih Azjouz, never heard his voice, never had the chance to have that drink with him in Beirut. We came across each other in the virtual world, that was as generous in allowing me to know him as it was cruel in informing of his premature death. Shockingly, suddenly, arbitrarily.

What I know of Wajih was distilled in his passionate and rebellious persona. His uncompromising views, his dedication to the truth, and his firm belief in justice left an unforgettable impression on me. I thought of him as a friend, but perhaps more importantly as a rare voice that refuses to submit to the tyranny of the majority. He spoke his mind, forcefully and honestly, not out of juvenile contrarianism but deep belief and conviction. Rare qualities in a country like Lebanon, and the region widely, where the pressures to silence dissenting voices are becoming insufferable.

Wajih was many things. Much more than his television job. A researcher with a deep appetite for knowledge, an activist with a fiery commitment to his cause, and, above all, a free mind. His dedication to lost causes was epitomised by his support to Liverpool football club, a delusion that we both shared. His mischievousness and sense of humour reflected within him the rebels of a bygone era that he admired, men and women that fought with an appetite for life, out of passion and curiosity. Not the dull unimaginative type that abounds today.

Wajih died in car accident early this morning, on his way to Beirut. The place of our meeting that never took place. He was 25. A quarter of a century that made him many loyal friends and, in the tradition of any self-respecting rebel, many detractors. As his friends mourn him today, people that didn't see the world through his eyes should reflect on his honesty and uncompromising views. Disagree if you will, but respect his integrity and unwillingness to shut up.

Rest in peace, Wajih my friend. See you in Beirut.

4 Sept 2012

George Galloway's imaginary reflection on his television programme

Following the first episode of George Galloway's new television programme, we imagined him reflecting on how it went.*

Al-Salamu Aleykom.

Al-hamdullilah today we have completed the first episode of my new show at Al-Mayadeen television channel, for which I will be receiving £3000 per episode. The money will go towards buying more houses that I can name after important moments in the history of the Palestinian struggle inshallah. Perhaps a villa on the French Riviera. There’s so much more that I can do for Palestine, like I keep reminding Syrians.

When the producers of the show first contacted me, I was a bit anxious. ‘Would I have to wear a tight-fitting bodysuit and pretend to be a cat?’ Somebody had told me that was haram. Also, that it made it look like I would do anything for money. They reassured me that wouldn’t be the case, I would just have to be myself. Well, not exactly myself, I decided Arabs would like me more if I pretended to be Eli Wallach playing an Arab in a spaghetti western. But for some reason, they didn’t like it when I came in dressed as Lawrence of Arabia. The headdress had to go and the camel had to wait outside.

3 Sept 2012

Radio Discussion: Can Syria's fragmented opposition come together

Listen to a radio discussion about the future of the Syrian uprising that I participated in on The Voice of Russia, with VOR's Brendan Cole, Alan Mendoza, founder and executive director of the Henry Jackson Society; Vyacheslav Matuzov, former Russian diplomat and chairman of the Russian-Friendship Society with Arab Countries; and Dr Omar Ashour, director at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

23 Aug 2012

Robert Fisk: Reporting from Syria ‘with sensational quotes in the headline’

Robert Fisk: Reporting from Syria ‘with sensational quotes in the headline’
Our writer reports from the frontiers of his fertile imagination with superb attention to detail and amusing historical facts. 

(This is an imaginary article from this series by Robert Fisk in The Independent inspired by this article in particular)

As I got in the car, a 1962 Mercedes built in the same factory where my father had once fought the German army in 1917, the driver smiled and nodded wisely, as all taxi drivers in the Middle East do when they’re driving a foreign journalist around. Ahead lay a deceptively empty stretch of road that my imagination quickly filled with the mental image of Sargon II’s soldiers marching along, primarily to illustrate my excellent knowledge of history.

The man back at the hotel had warned me about the false tranquillity of this part of Aleppo that I was about to visit. He only identified himself as ‘the raven’, but something told me that I must trust this man dressed strangely in an Abayya made of black feathers despite the searing heat. I have stopped long ago questioning those mysterious men I encounter while reporting, and so too have my editors.

21 Aug 2012

Anatomy of a rumour: How the Syrian deputy PM's non-statement became a big story

 Earlier today, AFP reported on a statement made by Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil while on a visit to Moscow. The news item was headlined: "Top Syria minister dismisses Obama threat". The piece contained the following:

Jamil also brushed aside US along with European and Arab calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as a precondition for any future peace negotiations.

But the country's foreign economic assistance negotiator hinted broadly that Assad may be ready to relinquish power as part of an agreed settlement.

"As far as his resignation goes -- making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue," said Jamil.

17 Aug 2012

A short conversation at the Mokdad household.

'Mom, where's my black T-shirt?'

'It's in the washing, wear the white one'

'I can't wear the white one! We're going kidnapping today! I will look stupid in the white one. How many times have I told you not to wash it without asking me?'

'Wear the purple one then.'

'The purple one? THE PURPLE ONE? There's no use talking to you about these things, you just don't understand. It's been like this all my life'.

'Ok, next time you go kidnapping, tell me before so I know.'

'Tell you before? Do you think we have a schedule? This is important regional politics. I really can't talk to you about this. Give me the white T-shirt. The other guys will laugh at me for sure.'

'No, no. They will laugh at your cousin who can't see out of his balaclava. He looks like an idiot always.'

8 Aug 2012

"Syria's descent into darkness" and anti-imperialist angst

As a non-interventionist, I should in theory agree with Seumas Milne about Syria. But his latest piece for The Guardian shows that, like many anti-imperialists, his position is both confused and contradictory. It might be the case that he is using Syria merely as a tool to criticise Western governments but in the process losing sight of what the uprising is about.

The piece is sensationally titled:  'Intervention is now driving Syria's descent into darkness'. The subtitle sums up Milne's argument: 'Western and Gulf regime support for rebel fighters isn't bringing freedom to Syrians but escalating sectarian conflict and war'. I am not a fan of the persistent Western and regional meddling in Syria which seems to lack a clear sense of purpose, but suggesting that support for rebel fighters is what is escalating war in Syria is myopic to say the least. Milne conveniently ignores the Syrian regime's responsibility for the conflict in the first place. 

6 Aug 2012

The man behind the Twitter death rumours


25 Jul 2012

Syria is Iraq and something about a midwife. By Thomas Friedman.

A slightly different version of this article first appeared in the New York Times earlier.

Kristof with a moustache, not Friedman

Lord knows I am rooting for the opposition forces in Syria because I want you to think of me as a freedom-loving type of guy. But we both know that they won’t prevail, primarily because that means all my arguments of the past thirty years would be proven wrong. Also, because Syria is Iraq. Think of this: if you take out the Q and add an S and a Y, and rearrange the R, I and A, you will see that Syria is indeed Iraq. Also, they are both generic and interchangeable Middle Eastern countries. And this will save me having to do any research about Syria. They were both ruled by men with moustaches. Like me, but let’s not dwell on that.

Radio discussion with Ahdaf Soueif: Influence of the Arab Uprisings on new writing

Listen to the radio programme I participated in with Ahdaf Soueif and chaired by Edward Stourton on the influence of the Arab Uprisings on new writing. Below are the links to the two texts I read extracts from:

'One Year of Hope' by Amal Hanano

'Falling Apart' by Maysaloon

23 Jul 2012

CIA’s favorite Saudi prince is laying the groundwork for a post-Assad Syria

Haaretz published this article, then took it off the site. Here's the cached version: "CIA's favorite Saudi prince begins laying groundwork for a post-Assad Syria"

21 May 2012

Are Salafis Preparing to Replicate the Hezbollah Model in North Lebanon?

The violent clashes that started in Tripoli last week and spread to Beirut last night represent the most serious challenge yet to the authority of the Future Movement, the largest and most influential party in the March 14 coalition. But amid the over-excited talk of this representing the beginning of a Sunni Hezbollah and the establishment of a ‘Northern Suburb’, it's important to keep in mind that this is more a gesture born of frustration than a serious and considered plan. Given that Hezbollah itself has reached the limits of its power as it finds itself locked in an ineffective government that has damaged its credibility, it is also questionable whether this model can bring anything but further instability and chaos to Lebanon.

Syria’s Parliamentary Elections: The Specter of Division

Read my opinion piece in Al-Akhbar: Syria’s Parliamentary Elections: The Specter of Division

10 May 2012

Aboul Foutouh: A Man For All Seasons

Shadi Hamid wrote an interesting article about Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh in FP, 'A Man For All Seasons', arguing that Aboul Fotouh is a 'political chameleon' but may have not enough real support to win the elections. He also predicted problems for an Aboul Foutouh administration because of his highly eclectic support base:

'But just as the high hopes of the Obama campaign were dashed by the political compromises inherent in governing, an Aboul Fotouh administration may find it difficult to transcend the basic realities of Egyptian political life. If he wins, his supporters will soon find that the divisions between Egypt's feuding political currents do not dissipate quickly, if at all.'

Hamid's article echoes my thoughts on Aboul Fotouh's chances of successfully leading Egypt, in my column in Al-Akhbar earlier this week:

'Aboul Fotouh has spread himself so thin in trying to gain the support of a broad spectrum, from liberals to Salafis, that it is hard to see how he can satisfy them all if elected. His relationship with the MB might change once in power, of course, but it’s hard to see how he would reconcile this with his campaign tactics. The divergence in his support base will translate into little agreement over any serious policy initiatives, seriously weakening his ability to reform.' 

I found the comparison with Obama's campaign particularly useful, given the wide gap between the electoral aspirations and Obama's performance in office.

12 Apr 2012

Dreamers not victims: Syrian refugee children show drawings of their dream homes

It is rarely that my twin interests, Arab politics and architecture, intersect. This set of photographs published by The Globe and Mail Photos: Syrian refugee children show drawings of their dream homes is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting. The 'dream home' is a handy instigator for imagining an alternative future and regaining the stability lost by refugees. It's a genuinely touching series of photographs made even more poignant by the revolutionary slogans. All credit to the photographer who came up with the idea, for once we are presented with refugees as dreamers not victims. 

Warspace: The City in Civil Conflict (Beirut)

For the 37nd anniversary of the start of the Lebanese civil war (13th of April 1975), here's a link to my thesis about the impact of the civil war on Beirut: Warspace: The City in Civil Conflict. The essay was written in 2003 and it includes a brief historic note about the Lebanese civil war and an analysis of the spatial phenomena that the war produced.

10 Apr 2012

The Graphic Guide to Egypt's Presidential Elections

 Click on the image to enlarge.

Introducing the Beardometer, a political sliding scale for understanding Egypt's presidential elections.

Note: The same face has been used for all illustrations. Any value judgements you make accordingly are down to your own imagination, this is purely a scientific exercise.

23 Mar 2012

Banning terror websites in France: Can you still read French history?

President Nicolas Sarkozy: "Jail those who browse terror websites". (Announced today in response to the Toulouse murders.)

Will it be illegal to read this online?

The day of glory has arrived!
Against us stands tyranny
The bloody banner is raised,
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons and women!             

(The first verse of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise).

What about the fact that the foundational revolutionary moment in French history culminated in the Reign of Terror? 

Perhaps self-awareness isn't Sarkozy's strongest point.

22 Mar 2012

On sectarianism as destiny: How to misread Syria

There’s a palpable sense that the situation in Syria is increasingly being debated in anthropological terms. The telling clue is the word ‘mosaic’. As in ‘a mosaic of different sects and ethnic groups.’ When all other analytical tools fail, a convenient tactic among Middle East experts is to revive the sectarian prototype, apparently the key to understanding political dynamics in this part of the world. But while sectarian dynamics do play a role in the politics of the Middle East, the real picture is far more complex. The conclusions regarding Syria that we are being presented with today arise from the myopic and reductionist sectarian lens. There’s nothing inevitable about the sectarian logic prevailing.

Take this comment by Gary C. Gambill for example, in which he is arguing for a ‘strategic non-intervention’ in Syria. Here’s his characterisation of the situation:

On debating atheism in Islam

It is said that the Muslims were gathered in the presence of the Caliph when an atheist approached them and said ‘I don’t believe in God, there cannot be a God, you cannot hear Him or see Him, you’re wasting your time! Bring me your best debater and I will debate this issue with him.’ The best debater at the time was Imam Abu Hanifah, a messenger was sent to summon him to the royal palace. Several hours passed by without a sign of Abu Hanifah, but he finally showed up.

The Caliph inquired why Abu Hanifah was late. Abu Hanifah explained that he came to the bank of the River Tigris but there were no boats to take him to the other side. While he was waiting, he saw some planks of wood floating nearby. The planks suddenly came together and formed a boat. The boat then drifted towards him and he got in. The boat then crossed the river on its own, without any visible sail or oars, and landed him on the other bank. He then got off the boat and came to the Royal Palace.

At this moment, the atheist burst out laughing and remarked, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, I heard that you were the best debater from amongst the Muslims, I heard that you were the wisest, the most knowledgeable from amongst your people. From seeing you today, I can say that you show none of these qualities. You speak of a boat appearing from nowhere, without someone having built it and the boat taking you to your destination without a navigator against the tide, your taking childish, you’re talking ridiculous, I swear I do not believe a word of it!’

Abu Hanifah Rahimullah replied, ‘If you cannot believe that a boat came into being without a boat maker, than this is only a boat, how can you believe that the whole world, the universe, the stars, the oceans, and the planets came into being without a creator?
The atheist astonished at his reply got up and fled.

This story is a popular one and is often repeated as the ultimate argument against atheists. It might be a true account or a fictional story, sometimes it’s attributed to Abu Hanifah but in many versions it only refers to an unnamed notable Muslim scholar. It doesn’t really matter if the story is true or not, what matters is that it is considered a plausible scenario.

What really strikes me about it is what it signifies from today’s perspective regardless of our opinion of the scholar’s debating skills. If we believe the premise, then it was possible for an atheist in the early years of Islam to debate a prominent Muslim scholar in front of the caliph and therefore publicly deny the existence of God. Compare that with the current situation when any hint of deviation from orthodox views can land people in serious trouble, as happened recently with the Saudi poet Hamza Kashgari. The real lesson to take from such stories is that the spirit of open debate is more in keeping with Islamic tradition than today’s censoriousness.    

Note: There are various versions of the story online here and here for example.

20 Feb 2012

The ‘Arab Spring’, or the ‘Great Arab Secularist Disappointment of 2011/2’

I never liked the term ‘The Arab Spring’. I found it too passive a description with its connotation of a natural phenomenon that didn’t fully capture the sense of defiance that characterised the Arab Uprisings of 2011. But in hindsight there was perhaps something prescient about the ‘Arab Spring’ reflecting the lack of a sense of control over events that now characterises the frustration and disappointment felt by secularist Arab supporters of the uprisings. Not for the first time in their history, Arab leftists and liberals have revealed the same kind of incompetence and lack of political clarity that have allowed other parties, such as the Baath, to outmanoeuvre them in the past. This time round they seem to have reconciled themselves to watching from the sidelines and bemoaning the ignorance of the Arab masses as the Islamists appear to be gaining the upper hand. This would be a premature declaration of defeat.

31 Jan 2012

Radio Debate: Egypt's Revolution One Year On

'Egypt's Revolution One Year On' A Radio debate I participated in with Nawal El Saadawi, Nabila Ramdani and Oliver Pearce.

13 Jan 2012

...and 20 Great Translated Arab Novels

 Following my last post 'The ultimate 100 best English-language novels', I compiled a list of 20 great Arab novels translated into English. This should come in handy for people who are interested in Arabic literature but can't speak Arabic. Unfortunately, there are many novels that have never been translated into English, such as Haidar Haidar's 'Banquet for Seaweed', and others have been translated into German but not English.

12 Jan 2012

The ultimate 100 best English-language novels list

Over the past few years, I have being referring to a number of ‘100 Best Novels’ lists to fill the gaps in my knowledge about literature and discover new authors and novels. The five main lists I have been using are Modern Library’s 100 best novels of the 20th century (English-language), TIME magazine’s all-TIME 100 Novels (1923-2005, English-language), The Observer’s 100 greatest novels of all time, the BBC’s Big Read top 100 novels, and Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.

I have attempted to compile a definitive list based predominantly on the five lists in addition to a few novels that I thought deserved to be on the list. Because some of the lists are only for English language novels, I thought it’s fair for my list to also have only English-language novels. I am working on another list for international novels.