The ibis in Egyptian mythology represents Thoth, scribe to the gods, maker of the palette and the ink-jar.
IBIS EDITIONS is a small press and non-profit organization founded in Jerusalem in 1998 and dedicated to the publication of Levant-related books of poetry and belletristic prose. The press publishes translations from Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, French, and the other languages of the region. New writing is published, though special attention is paid to overlooked works from the recent and distant past. Ibis aims to make a modest contribution to the literature of this part of the world by drawing together a group of writers and translators whom both politics and market-forces would otherwise keep far apart, or out of print altogether. Ibis is motivated by the belief that literary work, especially when translated into a common language, can serve as an important vehicle for the promotion of understanding between individuals and peoples, and for the discovery of common ground.
While tribalism and fence-building are the order of the day, Ibis seeks to present readers of serious literature with books that embody the cultural cross-fertilization that characterizes the best writing from the Levant and the thinking of its finest writers. In one way or another, all of the work we publish navigates what essayist Guy Davenport called the “Geography of the Imagination.” (“The imagination has a history, as yet unwritten, and it has a geography, as yet only dimly seen.”) At the same time, each of our books derives from prolonged engagement with the actual people, boulders, groves, and city streets that make up the local landscape.
Fueled by the goodwill of the press’s friends and the dedication to excellence of its writers, translators, and editors, Ibis Editions operates with very limited means. We rely on contributions to survive, and the border-crossing, syncretic nature of the project itself makes it difficult to receive funding from traditional sources. Nonetheless, we have tried to show that it is in fact possible to publish books of wide variety and high caliber, as we have also–through a range of public readings, presentations, and encounters–worked to build bridges of various sorts, between Arabs and Jews, the communal and the personal, America and the Middle East, and more. In short, we hope that our books have changed and will continue to change the way individual readers think about this troubled region and about the lives and literatures of the people who live here.
“[Ibis Editions] has cleared a space for conversation in a contentious region…. Browsing through Ibis’s small list is like wandering into a literary café filled with a vital spirit of intellectual engagement…. All [the books] have intrinsic literary merit transcending recrimination and sloganeering.”
Rachel Donadio, The New York Times
“A genuine beacon of hope.”
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“Ibis Editions … has spent the last [fourteen] years bringing together Arabic and Hebrew writers, modern and classic, on their excellent list… What makes their books outstanding is the high quality and the variety—cultural, linguistic, and stylistic—of the works themselves.”
Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun
“Not for some time have I taken so much pleasure in holding a book in my hands, turning it over and over, touching its cover, flipping its pages just to hear the sound they make…. Each book is like every other Ibis Editions book and unlike everything else on the bookshelf. Each book feels special, like the only one printed, preserved for years in a dusty corner, now fallen by chance into your hands. The reality is less rarified and more interesting…. By showing us a Levant this imaginative, beautiful, alive, and diverse, Ibis Editions is–on a small scale–asserting that reality.”
Sarah Burke, Bookslut
“While the largest of America’s publishers are threatened by a certain bottom-line-induced intellectual and creative barrenness … there yet remain pockets of life, even fertility, amidst small publishers such as … Ibis Editions.”
Off the Wall, Books & Co.
“Ibis Editions … affirms the possibility of a Mid-East beyond the Mid-East. In their unlikely juxtaposition, [Ibis’s books] provide a glimpse into a Levantine reality that offers something other than the images from Baghdad … televised for our benefit on a daily basis…. Their list is impressive.”
Leonard Schwartz, The Denver Quarterly
“[The day will come when] the Jew will not be ashamed to find Arab elements inside himself, and the Arab will not be ashamed to declare that he also contains Jewish aspects…. I am a product of all the cultures that have passed through this land–Greek, Roman, Persian, Jewish, and Ottoman…. Each culture passed on, and left something behind. I am a son to all these fathers, but I belong to a single mother. Does that mean my mother is a whore? My mother is this land, which absorbed us all, and was both a victim and a witness.”