"Bustani tackles the 'big issues' of modern life with imagination and originality."—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Whose voice is strong enough to examine the heartbreaking mysteries of our times with such wry, unflinching power? Try Hisham Bustani. When he drops his brave bucket into the "deep, deep well" of human doings, expect something excruciatingly perceptive and astonishing to rise. These are not lullabies."—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
"One of the most influential members of a new generation of Jordanian writers, Bustani is a progressive novelist who experiments with both form and content in his work."—The Culture Trip
"Bustani's work is experimental, literary fiction with a razor edge, slicing the tops off of familiar myths, tales, legends, and then, transforming them into visceral, grotesque fables."—The Literary Review
"Enigmatic and yet wonderfully immersive novel."—Music and Literature
"Offering a glimpse of a very different kind of writing than found in 'traditional' modern Arabic fiction The Perception of Meaning is a very welcome, and worthwhile, volume."—Complete Review
"A witty, pugnacious, bitingly satirical and sharply glittering assemblage."—Electronic Intifada
"A set of fascinating experimental works."—World Literature Today
"With the original Arabic juxtaposing the English, Bustani's works call for a deeper look between the lines for the differences between the two. He successfully advocates for creativity without bounds, unconfined by the "normal" rules of writing."—Al Jadid
"Bustani tackles the "big issues" of modern life with imagination and originality. He is duly recognised as an important voice in Arab literature and his work is starting to appear on academic reading lists."—Rhizomatic Ideas
This award winning collection of seventy-eight pieces of flash fiction presents an intense and powerful vision of today’s world seen through the eyes of an alienated and sardonic author. The Perception of Meaning reads like an alternative history to our world—a collage of small nightmares brought to life by a canon of unlikely historical figures, including Mark Zuckerberg, the lead singer of Megadeth, Stanley Kubrick, the Korean activist Lee Kyoung Hae, and the Mayan poet Humberto Akabal, among others.
A dazzling exemplar of contemporary experimental Arabic literature, The Perception of Meaning deftly captures a historical moment in which Arab societies are increasingly questioning the status quo and rebelling against it. Bustani’s stories speak powerfully to the present, and look to the future with a wary eye.
Hisham Bustani is a Jordanian writer and activist. He has three published collections of short fiction: Of Love and Death, The Monotnous Chaos of Existence, and The Perception of Meaning. English translations of his stories have appeared in The Saint Ann's Review, The Literary Review, and World Literature Today.
Thoraya El-Rayyes, a Palestinian-Canadian translator, lives in Amman, Jordan. Her translations have appeared numerous journals, including Banipal, Open Letters Monthly, and World Literature Today, among others.
5.5 x 8, 248 pages, 5 black and white illustrations