There was a huge turnout of readers for the Book Talks session, organised by Al Rawi Cultural Café in cooperation with Sharjah World Book Capital (SWBC) Office. The event featured Kuwaiti novelist, journalist and winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Arabic Booker), Saud Alsanousi, who discussed his works, including his latest book, Naqah Saleha.
Al Rawi’s Book Talks entail monthly meet ups, during which UAE book lovers meet their favourite authors from the Arab world and have vibrant reading sessions and discussions of their works. The event is dedicated to Sharjah’s yearlong World Book Capital 2019 celebrations and focused on one of the main pillars of SWBC’s mandate, which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of reading.
During the session moderated by presenter Dana Abu Laban, Alsanousi said his latest book, published by Arab Sciencefic Publishers, had been the spontaneous outcome of listening to the Kuwaiti song ‘Al Khalooj’ by Abdullah Al Fadala. It inspired him to write the book in which the female protagonist describes the desert where she lives and its customs and traditions. The writer had chosen the desert to be the backdrop to the vibrant love story of its protagonists, Salha bint Abuha and Dakhil bin Asmar.
“I wanted my book to talk about the desert and its environment, the tribes’ traditions and cultures. I recalled my experiences while living there to provide a realistic view, just like I did in my earlier novel, Saq Al Bambo, and other previous books. A writer must portray the background realistically, rather than just rely on imagination”.
Speaking about the influence of his home country on his works, Alsanousi said: “Kuwait exists in all my writings. I am preoccupied with it. I have always been obsessed with writing about my homeland and the entire Gulf region. These countries experienced a golden period of culture up until the 1950s. My books are mostly based in this era.”
The acclaimed author said that he does not believe in writing what readers want to read. He writes to take readers to new places and introduce them to his culture and surrounding. His intention is to intrigue the readers with clues that they must decipher to arrive at a conclusion, make them question the status quo and seek out the answers for themselves.
He stressed that many mundane details and small daily occurrences can be the source for amazing books. He pointed out that a pigeon that came every day to a window in his house where she had made a nest, had sparked the idea for his novel Hamam Al Dar. “I formed a relationship with this pigeon; every day, as soon as I walked into my room, it flew away from the window. As time went by, I felt responsible for her nest, so I started to slip quietly into my room in order not to scare her off. And I wrote about her.”
He concluded saying: “These daily details can make great seeds for a story; however, the author needs to find them. It takes me months of searching and researching to write one page. With every line I write, I learn something new. Research is the starting point for unleashing an author’s creativity. It brings transparency and truth to his work.”
A book signing ceremony was held after the discussions. The author signed copies of Naqah Saleha for readers.