Contenders for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction hosted by Abu Dhabi

The creators of the "short list". Suffering is a common denominator among the six acts

Participants touched on the worlds of their narratives during the session. Emirates Today

Talk of suffering, misery and death dominated the panel discussion that brought together the six writers of novels shortlisted for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction at the Emirates Writers Union, Abu Dhabi branch, yesterday evening.

Writer Aisha Sultan, one of the jury members of the award in a previous session, said during her presentation and moderation of the session, that the six novels can be described as falling under what can be called "misery literature", as there is the literature of the diaspora, travel literature, and other classifications, as misery, misery and suffering represent the common denominator between these novels, which are real tragedies that are heart-rending from their cruelty to migrants, families in the diaspora and characters in crisis.

For his part, writer Azhar Zarzis, author of the novel "The Stone of Happiness", stressed that he felt that ignoring the Iraqi concern in his writings would be a kind of betrayal, but when the homeland stabilizes, which is not easy, then he can write about love and less miserable topics.

The Iraqi writer, who immigrated to Norway during the Iraqi civil war, described alienation as like a disease, even if the homeland stabilizes, the return will not be easy, as after living for years in a strange society, acquiring its habits, and getting used to its system, finds it difficult to adapt again to the society he longs for, and its randomness, lack of order, security and incorrect religiosity.

The idea of survival

While the Egyptian writer Miral Eltahawy addressed features of her novel "Days of the Rising Sun", which deals with the worlds of migration and the suffering of people between the harshness of the situation in the homeland and the violence of the place of displacement, pointing to her address of the idea of survival and the search for it, and the perception of some that the mere departure of a person from his homeland is salvation.

She described the migration of the inhabitants of the African continent as unexplained to her, stressing that the homeland may be repellenished, but the new alternative is not a paradise.

Regarding the title of the novel, Miral explained that it is a satirical title about the promised paradise, and carries a paradox about cities and places with beautiful and glamorous names, and characterized by the ugliness of life.

Meanwhile, the Algerian writer, Siddiq Hadj Ahmed, reviewed the atmosphere of his novel "Mena", which takes place in the desert between southern Algeria and northern Mali, and the drought and famine that hit it in 1973, which the Tuareg called "the year of the shin", because of their suffering. He said that the first idea of the novel was formed in 2013, as writing is awareness, and what is in the present accumulates until the moment when it turns into a work of fiction.

The book calls for the search for different climates for the novel, and to open up to the African neighborhood, which is a mine of different cultures, ideas, customs and traditions.

Imagined biography

Libyan writer Najwa Ben Shatwan described her novel "Concerto Cyrina Eduardo", which deals with the life of a Cretan Libyan family, through which she presents the human struggle with injustice and political tyranny, as an imagined autobiography, explaining that she writes in complete freedom without political or social censorship.

While the talk about death was dominant in the intervention of the Saudi writer Fatima Abdul Hamid, about her novel "The Supreme Horizon", which revolves around death and love and their intersections in life, through the story of Suleiman, who lives his life under the influence of his mother and wife over him. She pointed out that her choice of the King of Death to be a narrator of events is not new to the novelist scene or even works of art, as it is an idea that has been hammered before, and fits the events of her novel.

Water and its myths

Regarding his novel "The Westernization of the Wasteland" and its link to water and its legends, the Omani writer Zahran Al Qasimi said that the link between water and civilization is very old, and as it is the source of life on earth, it can also be a means of death, recalling the hurricanes that the Sultanate of Oman was exposed to in the past years, and how they affected the geography of the place, and destroyed villages before their inhabitants returned to rebuild them again.

He pointed out that the novel also discusses the issue of excessive consumption of water, it may happen that a person with the abundance of resources may forget that they may run out, which is what happened in the coastal area of Oman in the eighties, where the population exaggerated the withdrawal of water from parents, so salinity rose, and agriculture died, and it took years to treat it.

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The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Writers Union, Sultan Al Amimi, honored the creators participating in the session hosted by the Union the day before yesterday, pointing to the Union's keenness to celebrate distinguished literary and creative experiences, and participate in various cultural forums.

Aisha Sultan: "The six novels that made it to the list can be described as falling under what might be called the literature of misery."