Influential Lebanese American writer Etel Adnan died on Sunday in Paris. Adnan, who was 96 years old, died of natural causes.
The prolific writer’s career spanned over five decades. Etel Adnan was most famous for writing on the themes of national discord, identity, and feminism – particularly in the Arab world. Her 1978 novel Sitt Marie Rose is considered one of the most astute views of the 15-year-long civil war that ravaged Lebanon. Adnan wrote across a variety of formats on a variety of themes. Arab Acolypse (1980) was a poetry collection, Of Cities and Women (1993) was a collection of letters written by the writer, and In the Heart of Another Country (2005) was a series of vignettes that were about both the personal life of Adnan as well as the political turmoil in her country.
But Etel Adnan was also a genius artist – something not many people were aware of. Through the use of luminous, abstract landscapes, Adnan tried to capture the true essence of the natural world. Adnan had started painting as early as the 1960s when she was still a teacher at Nothern California. It was only in 2012 that her artistic talents found a wider audience. In 2014, she presented her works at the Whitney Biennale to critical acclaim.
Mary Sabbatino (vice president and partner at Galerie Lelong & Co., the gallery that represented her) said:
“Etel Adnan inspired all of those fortunate to have met her in person. She taught us how important memory is without nostalgia and made physical in words and images beauty rendered from the light and darkness of the 20th and 21st century. As another poet wrote, ‘stop all the clocks/for she is dead.’”