Paris – “To carry a book in your pocket or bag, especially in times of sadness, means that you own another world, a world that can bring you happiness.” This beautiful quote by Orhan Pamuk – a Nobel Prize winning Turkish writer – sums up the true value of reading that makes us travel in Ages, because in books there is the spirit of all past and future times.
And because one life is not enough, as Al-Akkad said, we resort to books and reading to give us new lives each time. After reading any book or creative work, the human being does not return to the way it was, but rather bears the effect of the reading experience under his skin and wears it with the scent of some unique creative texts and absorbs with its perfume carrying the embryo of letters, words, rhymes, narrations and dictionaries in his mind, heart, and soul, and under the pores of his skin. A new creativity, a new birth and a new life.
Perhaps this is what the amulet of magical books carries after a year of reading, thinking, planning, enlightenment, solitude, madness, childhood, clouds, precipitation, and lounging under the showers of literature and rain.
For all this, the doors of knowledge and question remain open in search of amusing answers and a distinct cultural harvest, about the most beautiful books and readings that remained stuck in the minds of a group of Arab writers and creators in 2021. As well as the act of reading and its magical effect on the creator and the human being in general.
So to the poll.
Novels were not written to be read, but to be lived
Tunisian writer Amira Ghoneim considers the novel “The Goldfinch” by American writer Donna Tartt one of her best readings for the year 2021, and she is the winner of more than one international award.
She justified her choice of this book by saying, “It is a true creative symphony from which its reader does not get bored, even though it spans more than a thousand pages. I loved in this book Tarte’s superior ability to depict the depths of the human soul through a group of characters that implicate the reader in admiration and sympathy with her.” The book lived with me for a period of time, and I lived with its exciting events hours of happiness that delighted the end of this year.”
And she talks about the importance of the act of reading and its impact on it. Certainly, every reading experience leaves in a person a distinct impact, and it will not be after it as it was before it.
She added, “The ‘The Goldfinch’ novel left me with a beautiful feeling of fullness every time I taste a delicious narrative dish that the mind cannot easily forget.”
For his part, the Libyan writer Mohamed Al-Asfar indicated that in 2021 he did not write any new work, and he spent most of his time reading books on paper and electronically. But the book that he liked exceptionally is the novel “The Library of Herbs Square” by Eric de Kermel, published by the Arab Cultural Center for Publishing, translated by Dr. Mustafa El-Wriagly.
He continued, “This gentle and light-hearted novel brings you back to the time of Borges and his love for libraries, and reminds you of other creators who paid great attention to libraries, such as Alberto Manguel and Umberto Eco, and before them, Al-Jahiz.
The novel talks about a woman who loves books, so she left her job and established a library in a place called Herbs Square, and through the library and books, she built a human relationship with all her customers and became an important element in their lives. .
Although it is recent in the place and the arena, it has woven relationships with everyone and everyone knows it, every customer has his story to tell it to her, that is, he has his book that is not written on paper.
Al-Asfar concluded that when he read the novel “The Herbs Square Library”, he discovered other novels, films, plastic paintings, symphonies and songs. Because it is a generous and not selfish novel, it was written not only to be read but also to be lived.
He stressed that when he actually finished it, he did not feel that he had read a single novel, but rather read several other novels with it. He added, “This novel made me read more and more,” as he put it.
Reading changes us from within
In turn, the Moroccan novelist Abdel Nour Muzayin pointed out that one of the books that left a profound impact on his thought and memory this year, and on the ways he subsequently dealt with the entire Western intellectual and literary production of it in particular, remains the novel of the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe “Things fall apart”, the most influential.
He continued, “I read that novel and re-read it, and reflect on all that massive destruction that the English colonizer inflicted on all the intellectual, cultural and social structures of the Igbo people under several colonial names such as civilization, urbanization and progress. You can dismantle the real concepts on which the colonial thought was based in its view and its dealings with the colonies, their peoples and their bounties.
That racist view that would not have existed had it not been for the intellectual introductions made and accomplished by the early missionaries, writers and colonial thinkers who paved the way. Thus writing and literature, as expressed by Achebe in Things Fall Apart, become a new and effective mechanism for dismantling and re-reading the colonial intellectual system.
Muzayen concluded by emphasizing that reading profoundly changes us from the inside, although we do not realize that with the speed with which we change. Writing brings us back to our early childhood and our first innocence, as if that innocence had become a living ammunition against mediocrity, hypocrisy and enslavement. Reading reshapes the geography of our thinking and can make spring crawl again, no matter how overwhelming and forced the fires of memory.
Epic of great pain
Whereas, the Syrian writer and poet residing in France, Asaad Al Fakhri, considered reading as a window from which the reader overlooks worlds that form the equivalent that makes him see and realize what he does not see and realize by others, at a time when careful reading is the lush tree that bears silent silence.
He added, regarding his 2021 book, The Meadow, “The narrative of “smell traps” by the Saudi novelist Youssef Al-Muhaimid left an important impact on me, due to what was characterized by this different narrative experience from a problematic dimension regarding the methods of narration in it, and the transformations of the narrative game, as Al-Muhaimid is remarkable and important on the one hand. The narrative technique, and the multiplicity of narrators’ voices within the narrative context, and thus he was able to achieve the “stylistic breakthrough” that characterized him and his advantage.
I was also drawn to the narrative about the nature of the biography, which is based on the philosophy of loss associated with the sense of smell between 3 characters who alternate in telling the sequences of the traps story that tell us about the loss of each member of his body; Trad, the owner of the plucked ear, Tawfiq, the owner of a castrated manhood, and the personality of Nasir, the one-eyed foundling.
Al-Fakhri concluded that such an epic established the concept of great pain, which continued to raise the voice of its intense moaning and sadness in the form of a question “Where to?” The novel ends and we do not find an answer, in that the novel is in fact a question of permanence that bears in its answers its new question.
We do not leave a book as we entered it
As for the Tunisian poet residing in France, Iman Moussa, she pointed out that the novel “Les Impatients” by the Cameroonian writer Djaïli Amadou Amal was the winner of the Ginkour Prize for high school students. One of the readings that stuck with her this year.
Justifying this great impact, she said, “The specificity of this novel lies in its close connection with the experience of Cameroonian women in our time. The author narrates the story of 3 women whose fates intertwine, Ramla, who was excluded from her lover because she was forcibly married to the husband of Mrs. Safira, while her sister Hindu is forced to marry her cousin.”
Forced marriage, marital rape, social hypocrisy, and the consequences of polygamy are thorny topics that the author tackles with great courage. This novel by Galle Amado breaks down taboo themes by denouncing the precarious condition of women in her country and in many African countries. A poignant novel on the issue of violence against women in its global dimension.
In the same context, Moses asserts that we do not leave any book as we entered it. Where we come out of it more enlightened, more sensitive to topics that did not interest us in the past. We leave him more concerned about the state of the world at times. This is also the role of the book, if it succeeds in astonishing us and making us think, it means that its author has done a good job. “This is what I often look for when I start the adventure of reading,” she said.
The maturity of the creative pen from the depth of his readings
Not far from Musa, the Syrian writer and translator Nour Talal Nasra believes that reading has a great impact on our awareness and on our cultural and emotional reserves. But with the crowding of businesses and the noise of social media, it has become difficult to determine what we should read, and reading has become a hard work for a translator who spends most of his day translating a novel.
And she continued in the same context, “With all this, and despite my delay in reading the novel “The Druze of Belgrade” by the novelist Rabih Jaber, as it was published in 2012, it affected me, and it was not an easy novel at all. The great attention to historical details and work on the novelistic elements and characters made me stop In many passages in the narration, he deals with a great tragedy, such as the deportation of a large number of a certain sect, does not overshadow the tragedies and human injustice that befall the characters of the novel, for which the writer devotes a large space. for history”.
Finally, she concludes that reading gives her pleasure in the first place, as the atmosphere of each book is a new, beautiful and unique world with all its details, whether it is a novel or an intellectual book. On the other hand, Nasra asserts that reading has a creative impact on its writing, because the maturity of the creative pen, whether it is a translator or a writer, is due to the depth of its knowledge and readings.
She says, “I will not hide from you that I transcend my isolation when I read and come out of the shell of the deteriorating reality that we all live in in our Arab countries.”
The memory of suffering
For his part, the Egyptian writer Abdel Nabi Farag pointed out that the Iraqi novel “The Saffron Threads”, published in Jordan by the Iraqi Zuhair Karim, was published by “Dar Al-Aan, Publishers and Distributors”. It is the one that drew it a lot in 2021, due to its ability with skill and intelligence, a narrative strand that presented intertwined worlds and facts related to a period of the life of the Iraqi people after the occupation.
He continued, “It is a novel of conflict on the edge, between all parties, and no character can be neutral or gray. A novel of love, passion, secrets, fantasy, play and conspiracy. A novel of voices, because this world cannot present a knowledgeable narrator who monitors this intertwined world, charming events, wild ambition and desires.” Hysterical. This is the memory novel, which artfully chronicles the horrific crimes that were subjected to Iraq, this people who came out of ordeal to fall into great ordeal.”
He concluded his speech by stating that reading any narrative work or poetic sentence, we will not return to what we were after, but we will carry all this trace under our skin. Reading is a dream, a pleasure and a spiritual energy, and it is equal to freedom. Reading makes you more spacious and understanding of the other and increases a person’s nobility, because it deepens your sense of the value of life.