Reporters on the Job

A Frog, but Chic: As an Englishman married to a Frenchwoman, Peter Ford knows the Entente Cordiale (this page) from the inside (and mésentente - misunderstanding - too). His bicultural children see things from both angles, and 13-year-old Robin was quick to comment on the frog with which the daily Liberation illustrated its front page on Monday.

The French paper ran a special edition in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper of London. The Liberation headline: "I love you, moi non plus" (I love you, me neither). They were poking a little fun at themselves - but not so much as to portray France with an ugly frog. It was a particularly rare and beautiful tropical frog - green and orange with a splash of blue on its stomach - nothing like the common-or-garden pond frog which an Englishman has in mind when he disparages the French. "They think themselves superior, don't they, choosing such a special frog," said Robin. "Hang on, son, 'they' is you too," Peter said. "Well, I was speaking as an English boy then," he replied.

We Don't Carry That: Faiza Saleh Ambah says she first heard of Saudi author Abdul-Rahman Munif and his novel, "Cities of Salt," (page 5) when she saw it mentioned in Peter Theroux's book "Sandstorms: Days and Nights in Arabia."

"I was a reporter at the Arab News at the time. I asked around about it and found that a lot of people had read it, but it was very hush-hush and hard to get a hold of," she says.

Faiza found it fascinating that there was this underground interest in the Saudi novelist. Today, 14 years later, she says it's easier to bring controversial books like his into the country. But finding them locally is still difficult. "You have these novelists who are being celebrated abroad, but they are not in the local bookstores. It's an odd situation where everyone knows about the popular books, but can't get them."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot
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