Gamal El-Ghitani (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Al-Ahram Daily newspaper will publish a supplement tomorrow, Friday, 19 October, to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of Egyptian iconic novelist Gamal Al-Ghitani.
Al-Ghitani (9 May 1945-18 October 2015), was one of Egypt's most famous and renowned novelists who many deemed the successor to Naguib Mahfouz, the only Arab Nobel Laureate. He is one of the most translated Egyptian authors. His works have been translated into English, French and German, among other languages. He is most famous for his 1974 novel “Zayni Barakat.”
The supplement includes many articles written by authors and critics celebrating his work.
In his piece for the supplement, author Tareq Imam recounts his first meeting with Al-Ghitani at his office at Akhbar Al-Adab (Literature News), a cultural newspaper that he founded and headed for many years. He describes Ghitani as a humble human being who reaches out and gives a hand to young writers.
Al-Ghitani founded and headed Akhbar Al-Adab in 1993, becoming one of Egypt's most prestigious literary newspapers. He remained editor-in-chief of the paper until 2011.
Hassan Abdel-Mawgood 's article in the supplement takes the reader on a journey into Al-Ghitani's world as a journalist, and describes how he wrote his articles: always in one sitting, with no interruptions. He also talks about what a prolific writer Al-Ghitani was, saying: "He wrote whenever he wanted to write, always spoke of inspiration but never waited for it. He was always able to write."
In addition, Al-Ghitani was a great administrator who knew who to run a publication with all its bureaucratic aspects and system.
One important aspect of Al-Ghitani's character that defined him was working as a war reporter on the frontlines during the Arab-Israeli conflict until the 1973 war. On this aspect speaks Khaled Okasha, in his piece about Al-Ghitani, the war reporter and the friendship between his father, who was a fighter pilot in the 1973 war, and Al-Ghitani.
Syza Qassem, gives an extensive review of his book, Hekayat Ha'ema (Wandering Tales), which was released in 2015. The book is fully written from Al-Ghitani's memory, and is a long tale. Qassem gives the reader a window into the more bizarre things that Al-Ghitani read in his life, and what informed his rigorous literary style.
You can’t write about Al-Ghitani and ignore his seminal work, "Zayni Barakat," the novel that he was best known for, and for that reason the supplement includes a brief study of the novel by Mohamed El-Sayed Eid.
The author analyses the language used in the novel, the narration, and how Al-Ghitani weaved the character of the protagonist of the novel — Zayni Barakat.
Some of Al-Ghitani's novels have been adapted into television shows and movies, and on that front speaks scenarist Mohamed Helmy Hilal, who adapted his novel "Tales of the Stranger" into a movie. He describes his first meeting with the towering novelist.
Gamal Al-Ghitani, who passed away three years ago today, won many prizes, with his works recognised both locally and internationally.
He won the Nile Award for Literature in 2015, the highest literary honour granted by the Egyptian state. He also won the French Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1987, as well as several other awards.