Literature can be a useful tool for confronting tragedies of the past. In their newest plays, Algerian playwright Slimane Benaissa and Lebanese playwright Wajdi Mouawad examine the trauma inflicted by the violent upheavals in their respective countries, exploring ideas of collective memory and rebuilding a society that has imploded.
Essays and Features
Fouad Hamira, who began as an employee in the National Theater, has gone on to become one of the leading voices in Syrian television drama. He is renowned for his unwillingness to compromise with the forces of societal and political oppression. His controversial “Ghazlan fi Ghabat al-Dhi‘ab” (Gazelles in a Forest of Wolves), which was filled with a poignant critique of corruption and the abusive nature of power, was finally allowed to air in 2006, although he had written the miniseries 15 years earlier.
Born in Latakia in 1965, Nidal Seijari went on to graduate from al-Mahad al-‘Ali li-l-Funun al-Mesrahiyya (Higher College of Theater of Arts)and become a member of the Artist’s Union in 1991. Seijari was well known as an actor, film director, and art consultant in Syrian television drama. One of the most sha‘bi (popular)and beloved Syrian actors of all time, he fought throat cancer courageously for a number of years. He passed away on July 6, 2013, at the age of 48.
Celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has served as a symbol of the Palestinian struggle and a model of near perfection among contemporary Arab poets for several decades. After constant harassment, including imprisonment by Israeli authorities, Darwish had to leave his homeland in 1971, moving from one country to another in the Arab world and abroad. Throughout his many moves, Darwish increased his readership and became known as a herald of “resistance poetry” or shi’r al-muqawamah.
One of the recurrent discussions in literary circles in Egypt is whether a new literary movement has started and whether we can dub it “Revolution Literature.” It was on the 25th of January, 2011, that the Egyptian Revolution was hailed as successful, and why not, President Mubarak’s abdication was celebrated till the early hours of dawn in the streets and squares across the country.
“Why are you blushing?” I asked, as her blue eyes gazed obliviously into the tepid afternoon.
“I’m just worried,” she sighed, and said no more.
“Are you worried about the king or the paupers,” I teased.
“What king and paupers? What on earth are you talking about?”
“King Hussein, of course, and the Palestinian resistance fighters, whom he has just evicted...”
Amin Maalouf, perhaps the most famous and popular member of the French Academy, is a best-selling author and known as an intellectual whose works “honored” the French language. Maalouf’s contributions are considered an answer to the call of the Academy, whose exclusive and main concern is safeguarding the French language and preserving French culture.