Born In Cairo in 1965, May Telmissany is today one of the figures of what is called the New Writing generation. Shortly after spending one year in Paris, in 1991, she began publishing her short stories in literary magazines. By 1995, she had completed an MA in French literature, on Marcel Proust’s first book Pleasures and Days. In the same year, she had already published an Arabic translation of Les Cinemas Arabes, and of Anne Ubersfeld's Lire le Theatre, a critical book about the life and works of an Egyptian documentary film director, Fouad AI-Tohamy, and her first short stories collection Repetitive Sculptures (now out of print). For ten years, (1988-1998) she worked as an assistant professor in many Egyptian academic institutions, as a speaker at the French service of Radio Cairo, and also as a film critic. She has written several studies on Egyptian and international filmmaking and collaborated in artistic magazines such as Al Kawakeb (The stars) and Al Fan Al Sabei (The Seventh Art). In 1998, she moved to live in Canada where she currently works as Assistant professor of Cinema and Arabic Studies at the University of Ottawa.
In 1997, May Telmissany published her first novel, Doniazade which was largely praised by eminent critics such as Ali El Raei, Sabry Hafez, Amina Rachid and Salah Fadl. Doniazade was awarded the State encouragement prize for autobiographical novel in 2002 as well as the Ulysses prize for first novels in the Mediterranean for the French translation of Doniazade. Her second short story Collection, Mental Betrayals (1999) was part of a wide spread popular edition financed by the Ministry of Culture. Telmissany's second novel Heliopolis, published in December 2000 in Cairo and in January 2003 in France (Actes-Sud), is inspired by her native neighbourhood. Her most recent publication includes a book of photography and text on The Last Hammams of Cairo (Photography by Pascal Meunier), the bath houses of the city are now in the heart of an international campaign to save the old mamelouks buildings from neglect and disappearance.
In 2005, she obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Montreal on the representation of the Hara (popular neighbourhood) in Egyptian cinema from the mid thirties to the late nineties. Her Ph.D. is expected for publication in Arabic at the High Council for Culture in 2010. It is currently been translated by Professor Rania Fathi, Cairo University.
She currently writes a weekly column titled Diaries in the Egyptian Newspaper Rose El-Youssef. More than 115 columns were published between August 2006 and December 2009. A selection of her diaries is published in a book format under the title Lel Gannah Sour (The Gates of Paradise. Memoirs of an Exile) at Dar Sharquiat, and is currently been translated into French.
Upcoming books:A co-edited book titled Counterpoints. Edward Said's Legacy, to be published in London Cambridge Scholars Press in 2010.
Academic and Professional Experience
2006-2009 Assistant Professor of Cinema and Arabic Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada
2001-2005 Lecturer of Cinema and Arabic Studies in Université de Montréal, Concordia University and McGill University
1998-2001 Scholarship from the Canadian Agency for International Development for doctoral research in Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal, Canada.
1996-1998 Lecturer (part-time) French literature department, Cairo University.
1995 Master degree in French Literature on 'Narrative Poetics in Marcel Proust's Pleasures and Days", Cairo university.
1992-1995 Assistant professor at the Languages and Translation Center, Academy of Arts. French teacher at the High Institute of Cinema, Academy of Arts.
1988- 1992 Assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts, Menoufia University.
1987 Diploma in French Literature, Ain Shams University.
1988-1998 Speaker and journalist at the French Service of Radio Cairo.
She prepared and presented several cultural programs about Egyptian writers, Egyptian classical composers, orchestral music for children, the history of Egyptian cinema, etc.
Guest Lecturer in International Conferences
1996 - 2009: Participation as a writer and film critic at national and international conferences in Egypt, Morocco (Casablanca and Rabat), France (Paris, Limoges, Aix-en-Provence), Denmark (Copenhagen), Spain (Barcelona, Grenada and Toledo), The Netherlands (The Hague, Amsterdam), Belgium (Antwerpen), Switzerland (Geneva), Germany (Frankfurt), Italy (Venice, Riccione), USA (Pensylvania) and Canada (Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec city).
Novels, Short Stories and Other Publications
2009 The Gates of Paradise (Memoirs of an Exile) Sharquiate, Cairo
2009 The Last Hammams of Cairo (Photography and Text) American University in Cairo, Cairo
2008 Les Derniers Bains du Caire (Photography and Text) Le Bec en L'Air, Manosque, France
2005 Mémoires Héliopolitainnes (Photography and Text) Bilingual Edition French/ Arabic, in collaboration with Robert Solé and Mercédès Volait, with a preface by Mrs. Susan Moubarak, Cairo, Éditions Harpocrates.
2003 Héliopolis (Novel) translated by Mona Latif-Ghattas, Actes-Sud, Paris
2000 HeliopoIis (Novel) Charquiate, Cairo
1997 Doniazade (Novel) Charquiate, Cairo
1999 - 2001 Doniazade (Novel) translated into English, French German, Dutch, Catalan and Spanish.
1998 Mental Betrayals (Stories) Organism of Culture Palaces (OCP), Cairo
1995 Repetitive Sculptures (Stories) Charquiate, Cairo
I- Refereed chapters in books:1. Forthcoming : May Telmissany, “Difference and displacement: Three Egyptian writers of the Diaspora.” In Exile and the Narrative/Poetic Imagination. Edited by Agnieszka Gutthy. London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. (Accepted for publication. Manuscript: 23 pages)
2. 2009: May Telmissany, “The Production of Knowledge on Women, Gender and Islamic Cultures in Memoirs, Autobiographies and Biographies, by Arab Women”, in the On-Line Edition of the Encyclopaedia of Women and Islamic Cultures EWIC, General Editor: Suad Joseph, Leiden: Brill. (4416 words, to be published on-line in the Fall 2009, and in book format in the near future)
3. 2006: May Telmissany, “Deterritorializing Desire in Deepa Mehta’s Fire”, in Lesbian Voices: Canada and the world. Literature, Cinema, Theory. Edited by Subhash Shandra. New Delhi: Allied Publishers, Pp. 258-273.
4. 2004: May Telmissany, “L’espace populaire au cinéma: quel regard sur quelle ville ? ”, in Le cinéma et les restes urbains. Edited by François Jost and Pierre Perraton. Paris : Éditions L’Harmattan, Pp.217-226.
5. 2000: May Telmissany, “Francophone film magazine in Egypt : Ciné-Film. (1948 – 1960)”, in Cinema Press in Egypt. The first Half of the 20th century. Edited By Farida Marei. Cairo: Egyptian Film Center publications, Pp. 325 – 354. (in Arabic)
6. 1998: May Telmissany, “Esthétique du film documentaire égyptien” in Films documentaires lauréats de prix internationaux. Edited by Abdel Kader El Telmissany. Cairo: Prism. Ministry of Culture Publications, Pp. 17-36 (in Arabic)
7. 1996 : May Telmissany, “Writing on the margins of History. The Absence of Egypt” in Latifa El-Zayat. Literature and Homeland. Edited by Sayed El-Bahrawy. Cairo : Dar Nour, Pp. 97-106 (in Arabic)
II- Refereed Papers:1. Forthcoming : May Telmissany, “Diaspora and Displacement. Visual Narratives of al-shatat in Michel Khleifi’s Films”. In Arab Diaspora: Arts in Displacement. Special issue of the Journal of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Duke University Press. (Accepted for publication. Manuscript : 33 pages)
2. 2009 : May Telmissany, “Kippour : Le Silence et l’Oubli”, in Amos Gitai : Terre et Exile, Revue CinémAction no 131, printemps 2009. Paris: Corlet, Pp.98-103
3. 2002: May Telmissany, “La citation filmique comme anachronisme ”, in Literatures. Cinemas Cultures, Essays on Canadian Writing, no 76. Toronto : ECW, Pp. 247-262.
4. 2002: May Telmissany, “Pour un cinéma mineur”, in Quelle diversité face à Hollywood?, Revue Cinémaction, Hors-série. Paris : Éditions Corlet, Pp. 112-116.
5. 2001: May Telmissany, “Le quartier « populaire » au cinéma. Nation/vs/village planétaire”, in Sociétés et Représentations, no 12, Octobre. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, Pp. 363- 371.
6. 1995: May Telmissany, “National Cinema as an Alternative Cinema in Egypt” in Arab Cinematics: Toward the New and the Alternative, Aliph. Journal of Comparative Poetics, no 15. Cairo: the American University in Cairo Press, Pp. 70-84 (in Arabic)
7. 1993: May Telmissany, “Atteyat El Abnoudi. Documentary Film between Reality and Drama” in Hagar Vol. 1. Cairo: Sina for Publication, Pp. 94 – 112 (in Arabic)
Book translations by Telmissany from English and French into Arabic
2007: Mona Latif-Ghattas, Le livre ailé. Cairo: Éditions Dar El Nashr Horizons.
2005: Mona Latif-Ghattas and Lise Desjardins, Momo et Loulou. Cairo: Éditions Dar El Nashr Horizons (translated in collaboration with Walid El Khachab).
2000: Alain and Odette Virmaux (ed.), Les Grandes Écoles Esthétiques, Cairo: High Council of Culture Press.
2000: Italo Calvino, Pourquoi Lire les Classiques, Cairo: Organization of Cultural Palaces Press.
1997 : Albert Jurgensen, Pratiques du Montage, Cairo : Academy of Arts Press.
1996: Ann Ubersfeld, Lire le Théâtre, Cairo: Academy of Arts Press.
1994: Mouny Berrah, Les Cinémas Arabes, Cairo : GEBO.
1991-1998: Short Stories, A Knight from Scotland (Quentin Durward), The Blue Lagoon, Mogol, and Désirée (five simplified books, translated from English, in Masterpieces of Literature Collection, GEBO, Cairo.
A selection of translated short stories2008 “A selection of short stories in Swedish”, in Caravan, Sweden.
2007 “Chapter from Heliopolis in German”, in Lisan, Switzerland.
2001 "Fawziyya" in Roses from Cairo, Edizioni e/o, Roma (translated into Italian by Laura Chirielenson.
"Fenetre ouverte seulement sur ce qu'il voit ", in Quantara no 35, Spring 2000, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (translated into French by Walid El Khachab)
1999 "Trois bonnes et un domestique " in AI-Ahram Hebdo, 21-27 April 1999, Cairo (translated into French by Mona Latif-Ghattas)
1998 'Le jeu de la mort" in Al-Ahram Hebdo, 18-24 February 1998, Cairo (translated into French by Siham Djafer)
1996 "An old song", in Middle East Times vol. XIV, no 6, 4-10 February 1996, Cairo (translated into English by Hanan Samaha)
1996 "Cinq recits", in Peuples Mediterrarraneens no 76, July-September 1996, Paris (translated into French by Walid El Khachab)
Scholarly publications about May Telmissany’s literary works
1. Choukri Aziz El-Madi, chapter on Heliopolis in Anmat el-Rewaya al-Arabiya (Archetypes of Arabic Novel), Koweit: Publications of the Ministry of Culture, 2008.
2. Dina Heshmat, chapter on Heliopolis in Al-Kahira fil Adab al-Misri al-Moaasser (Cairo in Contemporary Egyptian Literature), Cairo: High Council for Culture, 2007.
3. Maria Dolores Lopez Enamorado, “Literatura Árabe y Posmodernidad: el Juego de la Muerte en Duniazad, de May Tilmisani.” in Philologia Hispalensis. Vol. XX, 2. Núm. 2. 2006. P. 67-84
4. Marlé Hammond, “Formulating the First-Person (f.) in Two Stories by Egyptian authors Latifa Zayyat and May Telmissany”, in Crossing boundaries: New perspectives on the Middle East, MIT the Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 4, Fall 2004 P. 53-70
5. Shirin Aboul Naga, chapter on Doniazade in Atefat al-Ekhtelaf (The feeling of Difference), Cairo: General Book Organization, 2003
6. Susanne Enderwitz, “Shahrazad is One of Us: Practical Narrative, Theoretical Discussion, and Feminist Discourse Marvels & Tales” - Volume 18, Number 2, 2004, P. 187-200
7. Maria Dolores Lopez Enamorado, “May Tilmisani: Duniazad.” Miscelanea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos: Sección Arabe-Islam. Vol. 51. 2002. Pag. 425-426
8. Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla: “Alteridades identiques a nostros mismo” Asparkia: Investigació feminista, ISSN 1132-8231, Nº 13, 2002 (Ejemplar dedicado a: Mujeres y (pos)colonialismos) , P. 55-60
9. M.A. thesis by Marwa Mohammad Elnaggar, “Autobiographical fantasia: Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Telmissany’s Dunyazad”, Dept. Of English & Comparative literature, American University in Cairo, 2001. Winner of the Tewfik Doss Award.
10. Christiane Chaulet Achour, “Shahrazad a-t-elle un sexe?” in Féminin/Masculin. Lectures et représentations, Encrage Edition et CRTH de l'Université de Cergy-Pontoise, Décembre 2000, P.139-155