November 23, 2011
Happy Birthday, Ameen Rihani
by Melville House
Since we’ll be out of the office tomorrow engaging in gluttonous activities, we thought it best to note before we leave that one of our authors, Ameen Rihani, was born on November 24th. Rihani’s place of birth was a small town in Lebanon, and he was born on November 24, 1876, making him one of the first generations to move to New York’s Little Syria neighborhood.
The young Rihani moved to our fair city in the summer of 1888 with his uncle, and quickly picked up English in school. In his early twenties, he began his foray into writing after deciding to translate notable Arabic quatrains into English, and eventually began contributing regularly to Al-Huda, the Manhattan-based Arabic weekly. He wrote The Book of Khalid in his mid-twenties, after returning to Lebanon to support the burgeoning independence movement there. Upon publication, it was the first Arab-American novel and was illustrated by a young author named Khalil Gibran. When Rihani returned to New York, he married Bertha Case, an artist who frequented Parisian salons and was a friend of the Fauves. (A portrait of her is in the Glasgow Museum here.) This year marks the centennial anniversary of The Book of Khalid, and we’re publishing it in March 2012 as part of our Neversink series, so be on the lookout for this title in the spring.
For more information about the author, try the Ameen Rihani Organization’s website here or Project Khalid here.