Wasini Al-A’raj Guested at “Nas Decameron” Salon
The writer’s prediction of future events… is the substance of creation.
Why did not the Algerian novelist Wasini Al-A’raj write about the Arab Spring till now? To what extent the alienation of the Arab novelist, in general, and his/her “sickly” relationship with the place is reflected in his/her literary works? How can we Arabs become forerunners, and a model for the West? How can the novelist overcome the complex of his/her first success?
To answer these questions and other several ones asked by a group of Tunisian poets, critics, and novelists, the great author Wasini Al-A’raj was guested in the evening before yesterday at “Nas Decameron” salon in the Culture House Ibn Khaldoun in the capital. His answers were convincing, and deep, revealing several important points, and links that connect the novel as a literary genre to several other forms of creation. Besides, he spoke about elements of success for the novelist, and the writer, highlighting the importance of the lively, and new expressive language that must be always sought to attract the reader keeping away from the clichéd narrative traditions.
The Arab Novel:
Answering one of the audience’s questions about the shortcomings, and the weak points witnessed by the Arab novel compared to Western literary works, Wasini Al-A’raj revealed that several Arab novelists are still bounded by the obsessive desire to regain the lost narrative traditions, without working on understanding their internal systems, and being alert to the unfixedness of the fictional language because the latter must be based on refreshed styles that enrich the reader’s imagination through the overlap of all that is historical, political, religious, subjective, and creative.
On the other hand, the Algerian novelist elucidated that the success of the literary work does not depend on the size of the novel, the number of its pages or the fame of its writer. He stated that despite the fact that his novels were translated into many languages, his works received a lot of caustic criticism as some see them as replete with digressions, boring, and discouraging when it comes to the continuation of discovering the rest of the events. Wasini Al-A’raj also admitted that several Western literary works received international success, although they did not exceed one hundred pages because the style is refreshed and relies on a polished language reflecting the writer’s good choice of words that are necessary in the building of the story or the multiple and intersecting story.
Ahlam Mosteghanemi in Wasini Al-Ar’aj’s lenses:
During the evening before yesterday, and through the many examples that Wasini Al-A’raj gave, he revealed that the Arab novel still suffers from stagnation, and shortcomings. And because Ahlam Mosteghanemi is considered a path friend, Wasini explained that, unfortunately, like several Arab novelists, she is living the dilemma in terms of overcoming the most famous book which is Memory of Flesh because she wrote several modest literary works in terms of form and content. According to him (Wasini Al-A’raj) thousands of copies of those works were bought thanks to her fame. Also, according to him, she had been to seize that important factor, and gained an important position among novelists to take a period of time, and produce quality works worthy of her reputation, and contribute to enriching the Arab cultural repertory in general.
On the other hand, Wasini Al-A’raj showed why he did not write till now a literary work in which he speaks about the details of the Arab Spring because he believes that there are a lot of signs that refer to the political side of the Arab World in most of his novels. The proof to this is the big debate aroused by his various novels.
He also pointed, from another angle, that the images and events conveyed by his works are not, but a prediction of the changes of the status quo in the Arab scene which is the substance of creation because what is being written now, according to him, is devoid of the elements of creation and creativity.
Originally appeared in the Tunisian daily Assabah 16/05/2012 by Walid Abdellaoui.
You can read the original text in Arabic here.
Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.