Book Review: Short Stories in Arabic for Intermediate Learners
Author: Olly Richards
Review by: Juwairiyah Shah
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book (Short Stories in Arabic for Intermediate Learners) as it precisely catered to my goal of improving my Arabic language abilities. It consisted of a collection of short stories, so it was more manageable to finish without the overwhelming feeling one might experience when tackling a foreign language novel.
The writing style was straightforward and easy to understand. The inclusion of vocabulary lists and comprehension questions at the end of each chapter provided an ideal means to assess my understanding. For unfamiliar words not found in the glossary, I relied on context clues to grasp their meaning, much like we often do when reading books in English or any other language we are familiar with. The book incorporates numerous phrases commonly found in literature, such as ‘he gestured with his hands’, ‘she shook her head’, or ‘That was all he said’. Thus, avid readers might be able to understand the meaning of these phrases easier even if they are not familiar with every individual word.
While reading, I couldn’t help but find certain expressions amusing in Fusha Arabic, considering its formal nature, such as the phrase “What a coincidence!”
(یا لھا من مصادفة!)
, so much so that I couldn’t resist incorporating this and other new phrases into my daily conversations with my Arab friends!
Although the stories were short, they featured well-developed settings, characters, and plots of varying genres- including real-life fiction, fantasy, and more- complete with climactic moments and satisfying closures that either left me with a smile or a “That’s it?” feeling we readers love to hate.
I highly recommend this book to intermediate Arabic learners who are eager to enhance both their reading comprehension and speaking skills; it would also serve as a great source of inspiration for writing.
Juwairiyah Shah, presently in Year 13, has set her sights on pursuing Islamic Studies at the university level. Over the years, she has diligently refined her understanding and reached an intermediate fluency in the Arabic language, driven not only by her career aspirations but also by a genuine passion and love for the language itself. Beyond her dedication to learning and academics, she takes delight in exploring diverse interests and hobbies. An enthusiastic reader, she also finds joy in the art of baking and painting. Engaging in these activities not only provides her with a means to unwind but also nurtures creativity and fosters personal growth.