Back in 2014, when the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture launched its AFAC Novel writing Program (ANWP), the objective was to discover, nurture and bring forward undiscovered talent from across the Arab region. The plan was to select in each of the three years of the program a group of young writers, bring them together to a series of workshops and accompany them throughout the writing process for more than a year and a half. Putting the completed novels in the hands of the wider public after so much hard work, comes with nothing short of a deep feeling of satisfaction.
Three years in the making, we are very pleased with the results of the program so far: the three rounds of the program has revealed a generation of gifted novelists diligently searching for a fresh and authentic language that is relevant to the time and place.
Today, we are pleased to invite our friends and all those who are interested in arts and culture in the Arab region in general, and more specifically in Lebanon, to a book-signing ceremony celebrating the launch of seven new novels produced within the framework of the AFAC Novel Writing Program, under the supervision of outstanding novelist Jaboor Dweihy. From Yemen to Palestine, passing through Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Sudan, we will celebrate with the seven writers their new literary work published by Dar Al-Saqi, which followed the program since its inception. The ceremony will include the launch and signing of the novels, in addition to readings excerpts from them. Join us on Sunday, December 4th at 4:00 pm in the Beirut International Book Fair (Hall A). The novels to be launched are:
“A Family Outing” by Bassam Shams Aldin from Yemen
“Two tickets to Sepphoris” by Salim Albeik from Palestine
“Ayyash” by Ahmad Hammam from Egypt
“Snow Burns” by Samir Youssef from Lebanon
“The Dangerous Neighborhood” by Mohammed Benmiloud from Morocco
“Rih Al Sharki” by Mohsine Loukili from Morocco
“Paradise of the bats” by Boy John from Sudan
The readings will be part of an hour performance by Caroline Hatem, Dana Michael and Omar Jbai, bringing to the audience texts’ mood, characters and ideas from the seven novels, before the signing ceremony. Furthermore, a meeting with a group of journalists and critics open to the public, will be held on Monday, December 5th at 11:00 AM at the "T-Marbouta" cafe in Hamra, in the presence of the writers and mentor novelist Doueihy.
The launch of these seven novels this year, follows the publishing of eight novels from the first round of the program last year, and we hope to celebrate the signing of eight new novels from the third and last cycle at next year's edition of the Beirut International Book Fair in 2017.
The AFAC Novel Writing Program is an intensive year-long training program, offering the selected literary projects a thorough mentorship beginning with the first stages of the writing and until the completion and publishing of the novels. The 2014 edition of the program was launched in partnership with Najwa Barakat’s Al-Mohtaraf. The second and third editions were supervised by the Lebanese novelist Jabbour Dweihi.
In numbers, AFAC has received 668 applications from 18 Arab countries during the 3 rounds of the program, of which 432 (65%) where a first work by the applicant. It was remarkable that almost half of these projects (308 applications) are by writers between the ages of 25 and 35. A scan of the topics addressed by the novels in the applications indicates that only 15% of them have a political background, 38% deal with social topics, and 47% with a personal story. Commenting on these figures, novelist Doueihy pointed out that “this confirm to us, once again, the importance and relevance of the novel as a literary genre in how it dwells on the emergence of an individual's identity and illusions in interaction with his /her community, family or past, with the range of scenarios that accompany this: from breaking traditional ties and yearning for freedom in its various manifestations, to internalizing frustration and failing to achieve one’s dreams.”