What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta

What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta
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Updated 09 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta

What We Are Reading Today: The Daughters of Yalta

Situated in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to a postwar world, The Daughters of Yalta is a remarkable story of fathers and daughters whose relationships were tested and strengthened by the history they witnessed and the future they crafted together.
The Yalta conference, a pivotal meeting between the “Big Three” (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin) was held in February 1945 discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.
This is the story of the fascinating and fateful “daughter diplomacy” of Anna Roosevelt, Sarah Churchill, and Kathleen Harriman, three glamorous young women who accompanied their famous fathers to the Yalta Conference with Stalin. Author Catherine Grace Katz “skillfully marshals diaries, letters, oral histories and memoirs to support her thesis that the pressures of wartime had warped normal familial bonds, so that the Western leaders’ relationships with their daughters had become more like those between business partners than between parent and child,” said Jennet Conant in a review for The News York Times.


‘Calligraphies of the Desert’ takes readers on an artistic journey

‘Calligraphies of the Desert’ takes readers on an artistic journey
Updated 18 January 2021

‘Calligraphies of the Desert’ takes readers on an artistic journey

‘Calligraphies of the Desert’ takes readers on an artistic journey

LONDON: At first glance, readers of “Calligraphies of the Desert,” a new release by leading Iraqi painter and calligrapher Hassan Massoudy, will be tempted to describe it as a visual treat; a stunning calligraphic interpretation of the desert. However, they may very well reconsider this reading of the text as they navigate their way through the book.

More than just a splendid calligraphy book, “Calligraphies of the Desert” is a masterful survey of writings about the Arabian desert, collected by Hassan’s wife, Isabelle Massoudy. The collection, we learn in an introduction by Isabelle, was prompted by the France-based couple’s multiple trips to the deserts of Egypt, Tunisia and Mauritania, as well as by Isabelle’s strong urge to “recover a little of that desert in Paris” by reading widely and devouring texts on the desert by renowed poets and writers.

Arabic calligraphy: Ancient craft, modern art
For the Saudi Ministry of Culture's Year of Arabic Calligraphy in 2020/21, we take an in-depth look at how the craft has developed from ancient to modern times.
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The authors of these texts, Isabelle says, “expressed in their writings a fair share of the emotions I had felt but could not yet express in words.” The result is an exquisitely made book — a collaboration between Hassan and Isabelle — that features texts by Rumi, Goethe, Baudelaire, Khalil Gibran, Al-Mutanabbi and Rabindranath Tagore, among others. Most of the texts are complemented by English/Arabic translations. Accompanying these segments are Hassan’s own magnificent calligraphic interpretations of many of them.

Hassan’s strokes are reminiscent of the desert. A desert color palette caresses his drawings: Shades of sand-yellow give way to a vibrant orange, before waltzing through a pulsating red-brown and stopping by other darker shades of brown. Likewise, the strokes are imbued with a sense of movement; they dance and twirl and whirl just like the desert’s sand waves.

“Calligraphies” is in many ways a celebration of the vast desert expanse — the laborious journey toward it, the silence and contemplation it brings to the traveler, as well as an appreciation of the path it enables toward knowledge of both self and the world.