2008 Between the Lines

What do you do when a flood closes campus one day before 12 teenage students and 3 chaperones are scheduled to arrive from 6200 miles away? You relocate, of course!

As a consequence of the flood, the inaugural session of Between the Lines debuted not at the University of Iowa, but at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which generously provided dorm and class space at almost the last minute. Instructors Iman Humaydan and Dunya Mikhail conducted Arabic-language workshops in the mornings, while instructors Daniel Khalastchi and Anjali Sachdeva conducted English-language seminars in the afternoons. Students were able to try their hand at fiction, poetry, nonfiction, translation, and even playwriting.

The participants, who hailed from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, and many of whom had never been to the United States before, got to experience much of what Chicago has to offer during the summer, including the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, John Hancock Center, Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile.

Happening Now

  • Just completed: “Sense of Belonging,” a bilingual Iowa City + Paris-based podcast series commissioned by Walid Rachedi and produced by NFW grad students in both cities, with support of the US Embassy in Paris.

  • Word has just reached us of the sudden death, in his hometown Gdańsk, of the novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright Paweł Huelle. RIP.

  • “I regret that poems can’t serve as witnesses in military tribunals; they can only testify in the court of history,” writes Iya Kiva in an essay for the project “War Is… Ukrainian Writers on Living Through Catastrophe.”

  • Congratulations to novelists Mansoura Ez-Eldin and Taleb Al-Refai for placing on the 2023 finalist list of the prestigious Prix de la littérature arabe.


  • Samuel Kolawole’s first novel, The Road to the Salt Sea, is announced for a July 2024 release.

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