Tuesday, November 24, 2009

`Abdur-Rahman Munif

"The positive reception of the novel encouraged Munif to leave his dreary job in the Oil Ministry in Damascus and move to Beirut, working as a journalist. He arrived with an unpublished second novel, Sharq al-Mutawassit (East of the Mediterranean), which Munif held back from publishing for three years. Its subject was political torture and imprisonment, a theme that would become one of the most prevalent in modern Arabic literature, and had already produced a certain body of fiction. [8] Munif’s novel, however, was of exceptional power and ambition, aspiring to write the ultimate political prison in all its variations, for it takes us to seven political prisons and lives with its hero in them for five years, during which there is scarcely any kind of torture he does not suffer. An epigraph from Pablo Neruda speaks to the need never to forget such suffering." (thanks Hassan)