“The Boxing Ring” or the New Initiative of “Nas Decameron”: A Report Written by Alia Ben Nhila and Translated by Ali Znaidi.
In the New Season’s Program of “Nas Decameron”:
A “Combat” in a “Boxing Ring” where “al-Qawwaloun”(The Tellers) Fight.
Hemingway, Alexis Philonenko, and the Senegalese Aminata Sow Fall.
The working program of “Nas Decameron” salon for October, November, and December, 2012 was agreed upon in the evening of Tuesday, August 28th, 2012. It includes “The Boxing Ring” manifestation which aims at, according to what novelist Kamel Riahi declared to Assabah, “regaining the art of oral storytelling in our Arab-Islamic heritage through sessions animated by ‘The Tellers’ in an innovative modern way in an attempt to regain the Decameron episodes of Boccaccio in a new way.
This manifestation also aims at inventing a new type and pattern to introduce narrative literature in Tunisia, creating a space for a marathon of tales and stories to highlight and enhance Tunisian narration, especially emerging writers, making literature accessible for the common people through a simple, modern, and new discourse that walks away from the pulpit discourse, materialising the statement ‘the sound mind in the sound body’ into reality, and showing the close connectedness between sport and writing.”
According to Kamel Riahi, this manifestation that will be launched by the free storytelling salon in “Nas Decameron” club was inspired by the realms of boxing or “the noble art,” and it will abide by its rules. The décor will be in the form of a boxing ring. Sound effects and scenography will be identical to the contests of this game.
Combating will be in the form of rounds including two writers who will read texts à l’italienne. The participant is allowed to use accessories, sound effects, theatrical expressions when reading his/her prose text. Texts will not be limited to Arabic, but also the use of French will be allowed. The winner will be awarded a shield akin to the one used in boxing.
On the margin of “The Boxing Ring” manifestation a seminar about writing and boxing will be held through presenting experiences of international writers who practiced boxing like Ernest Hemingway, an American novelist and short story writer who was born in 1899 and won The Literature Nobel Prize in 1945 for his novel The Old Man and the Sea, Mohamed Mrabet, a Moroccan artist and novelist who was born in 1936, and Rachid Djaïdani, a French writer, screenwriter, actor, and director of an Algerian father who has many literary works, among them, Viscera (2007), and many films.
Besides, History of Boxing by the historian of modern philosophy at the French universities Alexis Philonenko will be introduced.
A Combat Controlled by a Chronometer:
“The Boxing Ring” manifestation that will take center stage in The Culture House Ibn Khaldoun all day long on September 28, 2012 has rules, among them, we can cite:
*The narrative combat must not exceed 10 minutes and it will be controlled by a chronometer and a brassy bell, and after time ends reading will not be permitted.
*Contributions are accepted a week before the manifestation as a maximum limit.
*Reading must be inside the ring.
*The participant must not utter any word that is not related to the text, either before reading the text or after reading it.
*The participant must attend to hear the other participants whose combats will undergo a draw to decide on the combat contestants. The one who will violate this procedure will be sanctioned through deleting his/her name from the contest. It should be noted that reading will not follow the alphabetical order of the contestants’ names.
“Nas Decameron” is a salon founded by novelist Kamel Riahi and a number of writers and poets in May 2011 to introduce and discuss some of the international experiences in the fields of narration, short story, novel, cinematic and literary criticism, philosophy, psychology, and fine arts.
Introducing and Discussing International Novels:
The rest of the program of “Nas Decameron” for the 2011/2012 season will be as follows:
*05/10/2012: Discussing Aminata Sow Fall’s novel La Grève des bàttu ou les déchets humains (The Beggars’ Stike) which was translated into Arabic by Jamel Jlassi
*12/10/2012: Adnen Jdey and Aymen Debussy discussing “Writing and Evil.”
*19/10/2012: Slah Ben Ayed and Kamel Riahi discussing “The Novel and the Sea.”
*26/10/2012: Kamel Riahi and Adnen Jdey discussing Frida Kahlo.
*02/11/2012: Aymen Debussy and Slah Ben Ayed discussing the novel and the film L’étrange histoire de Benjamen Button (The Curious Case of Benjamen Button)
*09/11/2012: Kamel Riahi and Chaouki Barnoussi discussing “Writings in the Prison Cell.”
*16/11/2012: Adnen Jdey and Slah Ben Ayed discussing “Literature and Philosophy.”
*23/11/2012: Aymen Debussy and Chaouki Barnoussi discussing “The Novel and Jazz.”
*30/11/2012: Chaouki Barnoussi and Kamel Riahi discussing Haruki Murakami.
*07/12/2012: Adnen Jdey and Aymen Debussy discussing “Writing and Photography.”
*14/12/2012: Adnen Jdey discussing Emile Cioran.
*21/12/2012: Kamel Riahi and Aymen Debussy discussing Mohamed Aribi (a Tunisian writer).
Originally appeared in the Tunisian daily Assabah 30/08/2012 by Alia Ben Nhila.
You can read the original text in Arabic here.
Translated from Arabic, with some rectifications, by Ali Znaidi.