Celebrated Egyptian novelist Ahmed Mourad took centrestage at #BookTalksevent held at Al Rawi Café as part of the ongoing year-long Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations in the emirate. During the session, Mouraddiscussed his latest novel, 1919, set against the backdrop of the English occupation of Egypt.
At a lively discussion moderated by Hind Mustafa Moallem, the author described his creative writing process and explained why he chose to present the story in the midst of a major historical event.
“1919is my fourth novel and the most challenging one too,” revealed the author. “After the success of Blue Elephant,I wanted to present something new to my readers. I found this phase ofpolitical unrest in Egyptian history fascinating and wished to takemy readers along on this journey, but it was hard!”
“The first and second phases of the 1919 revolution was filled with mass movements against the British occupation, and sawfierce demonstrations and clashesonour streets. I had to study these historical details accurately to present the story in my narrative style. Writing this novel, therefore,involved intensive research as I had to read a variety of material on the subject, especially on the role of Saad Zaghloul –Egypt’s prominent revolutionary and statesman,” he said, adding that the process of researchenriched his work and was fulfilling for him on a personal level.
Stating clearly that he was not writing “documented history”, the novelist pointed out that a large portion of 1919 is pure fiction. “This genre is for entertainment and enjoyment, and any reader will know instantly that it is fiction. Those intrigued about the Egyptian uprising can research on their own to learn more. Getting people to delve more into the topic is also a validating part of why I write.”
“When I write for a film, I rewrite as I see fit. I don’t write my novels with a film adaptation in mind. Therefore, the upcoming film based on 1919 will be titled“Kira and the Genie”. I believe that each art formhas its unique characteristics and strengths, so my approach differs based on whether I am writing a movie or a book,” he added.
“Critical feedback is vital as it shines light on my strengths and weaknesses and helps me improve,” said the author in his discussion at #BookTalks. “Some are strictly technical or scientific while others offer more personal suggestions. Sometimes these are helpful and gives me an insight into how I can advance my work.”
Following the discussion, Mourad signed copies of his books for attendees and continued discussions about his previous novels with his readers.
Organised by Al Rawi Bookstore & Café in collaboration with the Sharjah World Book Capital Office (SWBC Office), #BookTalks events are monthly gatherings that aim to promote a culture of reading among community members and help them develop a deeper literary understanding and appreciation through their interactions with prominent Arab writers and authors who are invited to speak at these events.