The Supreme Council for Culture has officially inaugurated the fifth annual Arabic Novel Gathering, entitled “The Arabic Novel: Where To?” The gathering will take place over the course of four days, from 12th - 15th December, with most of the sessions taking place at the Supreme Council for Culture halls in Zamalek, Cairo.
In his opening remarks, Dr Gaber Asfour, head of the committee, proposed a number of issues, such as the increasing level of influence of globalisation on the Arabic novel within its wide geography and multitude of nationalities, and to what extent the Arabic novel can in turn influence global trends. He questioned the lack of science fiction in Arabic novels, reminding us that this genre is amongst the bestsellers internationally. Ashour said that despite the important influence of Arabic poetry, it has been surpassed by the Arabic novel.
The sessions will continue tonight until 9.30 pm, and from 10 am until 9.30 pm for the next three days, with several parallel sessions. The main themes for discussion on the first day are the experimentation in the Arabic novel and the implications of freedom on the art of novel writing. One session will also discuss Naguib Mahfouz’s literature, in particular his famous epics, “Children of the Alley” and “One Thousand and One Nights”. The evening sessions will examine identity and its relationship with writing and creativity, with one session based on Iraqi novelists.
Publishing, bestsellers and the market will also be debated, in parallel with communication and technology and the implications on writing and readers. The final session for the day will cover the debate about imagery and writing.
On the second day sessions will include themes from Arab novel writing, with the focus on Palestinian, Iraqi and Nubian novels, in parallel to a session about women writers. Discussion on recent novels by young novelists will follow, with a debate about the possible future of the Arabic novel and it’s potential. Roundtable sessions will continue for the last two days, and the closing session will include the announcement of the winner of the Fifth International Creative Fiction prize.