Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE POWER OF WORDS : an interview

THE POWER OF WORDS  

       FAROUK ASVAT  
          interviewed by  
       JOSEFA SALMÓN  


JOSEFA:  At the moment South Africa is very much the focus of international news, and therefore, it is a country shaped by the mass media and the struggle against apartheid.  As an insider and as a poet, how does your view of South Africa differ from this image? 

FAROUK:  Do you mean in terms of the contrast between the image that is created? …  In terms of the mass media coverage of South Africa, it's actually very limited, and also quite often very simplified, or very selective about certain personalities or certain events.  For the time I've been out of the country (for two years), I haven't come across, in the mainstream media, reporting on South Africa trying to capture or explain the complexity of what's happening there.  The problem with that is that a lot of people have taken on that as the image of South Africa - a kind of simple struggle between the good black guys, who are very oppressed and almost helpless, versus the very bad white guys.  And so quite often, what one finds is that people hear this, then do not want to be introduced to the complexity of the struggle in South Africa - which obviously means that it's fought at different levels, in different ways, and there are different responses to it.  And that creates a problem because Western audiences, speaking generally, are more at home with having either white interpreters like Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, JM Coetzee, or Andre Brink, telling them what South Africa is about, rather than wanting to confront the real complexity of the issue that is sometimes presented by some of the black writers in South Africa - also in a rather limited way actually.  One would expect that people outside would want to listen to people who are really on the oppressed side and who are in intimate contact with both the complexities of the situations, and the various ways of responding to them, in order to really get a true picture of what is happening in South Africa. 

JOSEFA:  How much does the historical immediacy of the liberation of blacks in South Africa weigh on the literature being produced there, and to what extent does it play an important role in creating a unified South African voice of protest? 

FAROUK:  The immediacies in South Africa are all-consuming, that writers are constantly confronting what happens today or what has happened yesterday or what is about to happen tomorrow.  They obviously do it in the context of history and with future ideals in mind.  But a lot of the writing that actually comes out deals with the very, very immediate experiences... actual day-to-day experiences and confrontations.  In many ways that gives the writing its own vibrancy and originality in many different ways.  But at the same time that quite often this also limits it - because one is then prevented from having the luxury of sitting back and thinking about very major events in a "detached" or "objective" (and I'm putting that in quotation marks) perspective, which in many ways would give those very experiences a kind of broader perspective.  But, on the other hand, what happens because you're living so much on the edge all the time, is that in many ways you actually do incorporate all those other things into your moment, almost every moment, so that when you write that poetry, even though you're dealing very emotionally with something that is very immediate, you've also got all your other inputs in there.  I found that there are times you end up writing something very meaningful, quite often only realising afterwards some of the different factors that you've brought into your poem.  So that instead of spending five years in writing some piece, you might write it in one night, because quite often you might not have the time to go back to it or you're not going to get another opportunity to write that poem or that play or that short story. 

JOSEFA:  So the political situation very much determines what kind of poetry is being written? 

FAROUK:  Yes, extremely so, because poets are just not individuals, or they are just not writing their own feelings about something - poetry and the arts having become very integrated into the political struggle; - and especially poetry, because at most political meetings and almost all funerals and mass rallies poetry has become an integral part of the proceedings.  At one level, even though people might write complex poems about the situation, these will be read at a political meeting.  But at another level, the very need to always be reading poetry means that a lot of stuff comes closer to the oral tradition of performance poetry, rather than written poetry. 

JOSEFA:  How did the political situation in South Africa affect you personally, as a physician and as a poet? 

FAROUK:  Well, first of all I don't think that I started off thinking of myself as a poet or somebody who is going to write or publish things.  My writing in many ways emanated from a need to articulate what is happening to black people in South Africa, and because, even at an early stage a lot of the things I read gave me the sense that they were only partially explaining things, or quite often misrepresenting what I felt were my own experiences, or the kinds of experiences that were shared amongst people.  From that came a need to sort of try and, well, just write poems - on the one hand to explain, but on the other hand to confront the very system you were dealing with.  So, a lot of my poetry really went hand with the development of the Black Consciousness Movement with Steve Biko.  The cultural exploration became a very integral part of political activity: that is, to try and rediscover our history, our past, to find a voice to articulate our own experiences.  At one level there's a kind of opposition, but also for some of us it's a way of trying to explain our own lives, both to ourselves and to other people.  I'm not quite sure if I would have started writing …, but because of the political situation I did start writing, and in many ways that very thing then became a reason to write, not so much from an individual need as from a need that arose in the community itself, which had been made voiceless in so many different ways through censorship, through misrepresentation in books, and the media, to the extent that, for a lot of people, it was almost hopeless to oppose the system - so that my writing developed very much hand-in-hand with the political movement at that stage. 

JOSEFA:  Did you become a target for political persecution? 

FAROUK:  Yes, from the very beginning.  Within a few months of having written my first poems, I already had a death threat.  Soon after, I was banned for five years.  Officially they don't give you reasons for why you are banned, but several people were told along the way that the reason for banning us was that we were reading poetry.  We went around to various schools, community halls, putting together an evening show with music and poetry, reading and talking about the political situation.  And we did this quite extensively, especially in the Johannesburg area.  And within six months of doing that, four of the poets that were intimately involved with the group I initiated were banned.  

JOSEFA:  Which group was this? 

FAROUK:  It was called Black Thoughts.  Also the musicians were harassed.  To silence the voice of writers and poets was definitely the aim of the system, because in oppressed societies where the media misrepresents you, where the schooling system misrepresents you, honest writers become the voice of the people in a sense that they articulate what, quite often, the people's aspirations are, what they are feeling - and that is what oppressive regimes obviously do not want.  Also, it's not always just political harassment, but also as part of my medical training at the university (which is supposed to be a liberal institution), I had a lot of problems in terms of my course work.  And when I qualified, for two and a half years I couldn't get a job at a provincial hospital where I needed to do my internship.  Subsequently, I had lots of difficulties getting jobs at other provincial hospitals - and I could go into lots of evidence for that.  So, it's a kind of harassment at many levels that writers have to face in an oppressed society.  

JOSEFA:  You say that the writers represent the voice of the people.  How does your writing accomplish this? 

FAROUK:  What I've been trying to do is to get to how people really feel, dealing with their day to day relationships in the midst of a very violent and oppressive system.  A lot of writing, unfortunately, that comes from people on the supposed left, quite often deals only at the very rhetorical level with the political ideologies of what struggle means, which is valid at one level - but it is also the writer's duty to try and tell them how people really feel and respond with all their contradictions, with their hopes and despairs of political struggle in the midst of ordinary social events, of everyday individual responses of laughter and hope and cynicism or whatever else.  I don't think people really respond only at the rhetorical level to the oppression.  And for a lot of people outside of those events it's also easier to identify with that kind of rhetorical representation, because you have these clear-cut good guys/bad guys images; whereas if they have to deal with complex feelings and emotions and subtleties and wants, of how people really feel … - some people are afraid to confront that because it gives humanity to the people who have always been looked upon as objects.  When dealing with the situation at the rhetorical level, you are also reducing your own experiences to an object - that suits many people's image of what oppressed people are.  

JOSEFA:  Could you just clarify what "rhetorical representation" means to you? 

FAROUK:  Well, just dealing with the issue in clear-cut ideological terms: that this is a capitalist system, that we are revolutionaries, that we are going to create a socialist system, with those kinds of highly simplified images.  Quite often it's necessary for political work at one level; but in terms of trying to really write about the people one has to go much, much deeper than just ideological, rhetorical representations of the struggle.  I mean a lot of that kind of writing is good at one level, because one can identify with it in a certain way, but I don't think it tells you much more than a political pamphlet would tell you or a newspaper article from a magazine on the left would tell you. 

JOSEFA:  Is this writing very common in South Africa? 

FAROUK:  Yes, a lot of South African writing is that, because the situation demands it.  And also, it takes a lot of hard work to get from just writing simplistically at the rhetorical level to writing more complexly.  I don't think we should deny those voices, because in any case our voices are silenced at so many different levels; so whatever voices we have are valid at one level.  But it is also necessary for people who are interested in literature and the political situation as such, if we can give or help give better insights to better articulate our own complexities - it helps us, it helps other people working in the struggle to better understand things; and hopefully certain of those things would then lead on to further changes or developments or critiques of the struggle.  The rhetorical writing helps in the sense of reinforcing what your basic notions already are about the struggle.  So, I suppose that is necessary at some level, too. 

JOSEFA:  Since most of your work is written in English, how do you feel about dealing with the English language, which has often been identified as the language of the oppressor? 

FAROUK:  I think that historical and peculiar circumstances for each country determine and dictate those things.  I don't think there is an overall solution for it.  But for instance, to take the Latin American experience, where writers have taken the language of the coloniser and have converted it in many instances to the language of the revolution - language itself can be either liberating or oppressive.  What English writers, people who write in English have to do if they have chosen to write in English, is to create another English which is the English of liberation, rather than the kind of English that was used to impose so many things on people that are colonised.  It's a difficult process because one grows up in a system which is totally geared towards the dominant culture or the dominating culture, that one first has to learn the language itself, which in some instances might be foreign to the people or it might be a second or third language.  Once that is done, one then has to go many steps further in trying to understand what the language is really trying to do.  Also, in that same process, try to undermine the very language that you're trying to master. 

JOSEFA:  Do black writers in South Africa put more emphasis on changing the language into one that would reflect their reality or way of speaking? 

FAROUK:  It was a debate for quite a long time and there was a phase when a lot of people felt that English was the language of the coloniser, as Afrikaans is.  Therefore we should go back to our own roots and there was even an attempt made, which was very peripheral, of Swahili being taught to everyone.  And then there were people who said that writing had to be in Zulu, Tswana, or one of the indigenous languages.  But having discussed that, people realised that on the one hand to put emphasis on the different languages would have the danger of creating clan and tribal and nationalist identities within the nation which would then be a danger to the unifying of the struggle.  And also in South Africa a lot of the people, a majority of black people, do speak English at some level or other, so that we saw English as the kind of the national language, as the unifying language, the lingua franca, as a language to be used for political discussions.  But it doesn't deny the fact that regional languages for politicisation in regional areas should also be used, because if you can get through to people in a certain language and if it is easier to do that, then it's fine; but the emphasis is not to create those kinds of separate identities which is the very thing we have been fighting against.  But creating the English language for liberation is not simply to use rhetorical terms which are militant and which are against the system - it goes much deeper than that.  That kind of language would need to try to incorporate a lot of specifics and needs of the cultures that they come from, which are specific for those particular areas.  So it's not just a matter of using catch-phrases.  It's a matter that goes much deeper, and for South African writers, in the long term, that is the real challenge, and it is also the challenge for a lot of other people in the supposed Third World: that is, to take English or French or Spanish and turn it around in the way that liberation theology has turned around Christianity from being used as one of the arms of the colonising process - to reinterpret it, and to serve a purpose in terms of understanding religion from a different perspective which is meaningful to the people who have been oppressed or who are fighting against oppression. 

JOSEFA:  In terms of your own writings, how do you deal with the choice of languages that you face? 

FAROUK:  Well, because of what I've said now, I've written predominantly in English, but I've also written in various slangs that exist in South Africa - which are combinations of different languages.  There might be one language base, but quite often there are combinations of several languages that are predominant in that region with a whole lot of words that are totally invented words.  It's not anything that has been worked out, it has come very much from people's experiences, so that certain things somebody might say might just catch on or a certain sound that somebody might hear might be changed into a word which then becomes a new word and which doesn't belong in any of the languages.  So I've written poems in that way as well.  And in terms of some of my short stories, I've written them in English but I've tried to incorporate phrases or sometimes the thought processes of the different languages or regions.  And that is what has to be done with English or Spanish or French or Portuguese because I don't think we can just write in English in the sense that it comes from Britain. 

JOSEFA:  What other languages do you speak? 

FAROUK:  Well, my home language initially was Gujerati - my grandparents came from India.  I also learned Urdu and learned to read Arabic as part of the cultural or religious background of my parents.  But the language in the immediate environment was Tswana, one of the indigenous languages.  And then, a fair amount of people spoke Afrikaans.  And English actually came, in a sense later, and in another way at the same time, because one obviously hears the radio or reads the newspapers.  But in terms of schooling, English only came once one really went formally to school.  So English in some ways wasn't my first language.  And subsequently because of my work as a doctor I've also learned to some extent Zulu and Xhosa.  Also, outsiders may understand a few words in the  slang languages and they might still not understand most of the slang, of what is beiong said.   And part of it is a subversive culture, because it allows you to speak in the presence of your boss or in your work situation - so you can have a roaring conversation even about him (your boss), in his presence, without him understanding what you are talking about.  So, poetry that I've written in that mode is very immediately identifiable with audiences where that particular language or slang is spoken, in a way that English poetry in some ways cannot always be, because in some ways we still haven't gotten the skill of how to really get the English across. 

JOSEFA:  You told me previously that you had read much Latin American literature.  How did this affect your work? 

FAROUK:  Several Latin American writers have had a tremendous influence on me because in many ways it was the first time I had a kind of sense that there were writers who were writing exactly what I would want to say or almost exactly or very near to what I would want to say about my own situation.  Whereas no matter who I read from the established literature or the Western canon, or even a lot of the other literature I had read previously from the non European World, they were somehow bound up in Western traditional literatures, so even though at one level it might have been sort of anti-colonialist or anti-imperialist, at another level it had not freed itself from the thought processes of the dominant culture.  When I read especially Pablo Neruda and Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, I began to have a sense that here were writers - that in spite of the fact that I was reading it in English and it was originally written in Spanish which are both colonising languages - that they had in many ways gotten beneath the trappings of the language itself and had liberated it and were actually doing something else with it which was something that I could identify with, at various levels, not only in terms of ideology or rhetoric but also at a much inner, deeper level.  Again, even though there are so many similarities about having been colonised, or living in a new colonial situation, or the tremendous amount of violence in those societies, there are still aspects that the Latin American writing doesn't quite explain, in terms of my situation.  In our situation the issue of race is a very dominant factor, and there are also obviously just other specific factors about the South African situation.  So, it comes nearest so far, in many ways, to what my experiences are, but still it doesn't quite explain my own situation.  In terms of dealing with the dominant culture, a lot of African writers, even though at some level they dealt with colonialism and racism, they had not been able to free themselves of the trappings entirely of the dominating culture.  What Ngugi wa Thiong'o, for instance, has said is very important about decolonising the mind.  So that even though a lot of countries have got their supposed independence or are supposedly free now, they are actually living very much totally caught up in the dominating culture which is usually European for most of the countries; and now very much the pervasiveness of US pop invading our cultures. 

JOSEFA:  As far as your own poetry, you have two poems in A Celebration of Flames, one dedicated to Steve Biko and another to Mandela.  What is your relationship with these people? 

FAROUK:  Well, Mandela is from a generation before me in many ways - I mean, he has been in prison since I was a child.  So he always was something of an image that one looked up to in the early days.  Regarding Steve Biko, I became involved in politics at about the time when Steve and others started the Black Consciousness Movement.  So my own influences are very strong from that period.  And in many ways, Steve and the Black Consciousness Movement articulated many things in a very original way and also in a way that is very pertinent to the South African situation: there was an amazing amount of clarity in explaining what the South African situation was about - because a lot of the politics previous to that were also caught up in foreign ideologies that were transported into South Africa.  So you were either dealing with a kind of passive resistance or you were dealing with ideological discussions that hadn't looked at the specifics of the South African situation.  You were either just talking in terms of Marxist or Leninist or Trotskyist theory, or you were using the South African experience of Gandhi from a previous time and sort of wanting to still use it in South Africa.  But what the Black Consciousness Movement did is, it took all these influences and tried to make them into a more specific coherent articulation of a specific situation at a specific historical moment.  And for me that has been a very important thing because it was really the very first time that it was done, not only at a theoretical level, it happened simultaneously with political work, in terms of setting up clinics or independent industries, independent agricultural projects, cultural events - so that political organisation happened at the same time.  There was a tremendous integration of political work at the various levels with the development of an indigenous political theory which was also influenced by everything from Marxism/Leninism to Aimé Césaire, from the protests against the war in Viet Nam to W E B Du Bois and Frantz Fanon, from Paulo Freire and Amilcar Cabral to Malcolm X and the formation of the Black Panther movement, and the liberation struggles against the colonial rulers - but using all of that to bring it down to a specific and simple interpretation of what the South African situation is about.  

JOSEFA:  Did you personally know Steve Biko? 

FAROUK:  Personally, I just met him a few times, very briefly, more in passing.  I mean, I didn't know him well.  He was in a different region.  Also, I got banned very soon after I started political work - in fact, within six months I was banned.  By that time he had already been banned and banished and restricted to King Williamstown.  So, because of that, I didn't actually get to know him.  In 1977, I was going to - and I did go to work (in violation of my banning order) in the clinic that Steve had started in King Williamstown; but by the time I started he had already been detained and tortured and killed.  So I only got there on the day of his funeral.  But Steve left a kind of presence in the South African situation that is unique. 

… Not that any one person is ever responsible for a struggle or for political articulation - it's just that individuals who have the ability do various things at various levels … - that is probably a very bourgeois or Western notion about writers and individuals who have all these tremendous skills, who can then articulate it, and are somebody special.  A writer is just one other person in the community who has developed a skill in a certain direction, and that what he is doing is merely articulating and being a conduit for what a lot of the other people feel. 

JOSEFA:  Is this your notion about your role as a writer? 

FAROUK:  Yes; and there should be a kind of re-evaluation of writers and of artists - not as some people with special skills and special talents or some God-given powers or something like that, which makes them somebody who is above, or better than, or different from the people.  What should be told more and more is that a writer or a musician is just another person who has learned a lot of things, and if he is coming from a kind of communal political set up, then what he is merely doing is articulating what a lot of people feel, which is also an empowering kind of attitude because it gives people the ability to say, "Look, I can also be a writer," and hopefully quite a few people will then also go on to develop this skill.  It is just a difference between people who spend more time developing certain skills.  It's like anything else...  It's like being a doctor.  You're not anything special, you're just somebody who has had the opportunity or had the persistence to go on and study certain things, and you spent a lot of years doing that.  So, quite often people will come to you and say, "I have tuberculosis," and the patient will be correct.  I mean, quite often people know what they are suffering from.  What they need is just the doctor to, in many ways, confirm what they are suffering from in a more objective and specialised way, and also to deal with it in a way that the patient himself cannot deal with.  And that's the same thing with writers.  What they are doing is just articulating what people in the community feel, and that others have just probably not had the opportunity or the chance or the desire to be a writer. 

JOSEFA:  Why is poetry so important as an organising political tool? 

FAROUK:  It's several things.  The immediacy is so consuming in the South African situation that you are dealing with a dynamic situation that is changing all the time, almost every day.  The only way you can respond to it is immediately and quickly and in that way poetry is a very useful means of doing it, because things change and you suddenly need something else to be said.  Almost all writers in South Africa, black writers in South Africa, are not only writers but they also have a full-time job, most of them have families, and most of them are involved politically at some level - either local, regional, or national.  So that they have obviously a tremendous amount of things to do and so poetry becomes a quick method of dealing with your immediate situation.  That's the reason that there is so much poetry.  Initially, a lot of people can write down lines and call it poetry and therefore it begins to sort of give the sense that they can do something or say something about what's happening in their lives.  Whereas obviously, to sit down and write a novel you need ... - just the process of writing might take you a few years - ... you need a kind of comfort and luxury of a study to do that.  And there's obviously a lot of poverty, a lot of overcrowding - so that in many ways just the social circumstances are not conducive for you to have your big library and spend four hours in a study where nobody is going to disturb you.  Most houses in South Africa have ten, fifteen, twenty people staying in the home - so that the lounge itself is a sleeping place and the bedroom might have quite a few people.  So that the only time you have to write is late at night when everybody else is asleep and you're the only guy who is sitting up around and doing some writing.  So it's a combination of all those factors.  Also because South Africa is so much a changing, dynamic situation all the time that you have to respond so strongly to so many things - emotionally, intellectually - all the time.  It is difficult to have a kind of detached perspective about some characters that you're creating when somebody's getting killed in the community that you're living in, or people are getting beaten up, or children are detained - it is difficult for you to say, "Well, I'm not going to be interested about that - what's important is writing."  Writing is very important because it gives people a voice, it gives people a sense of belonging, it gives people a sense of common experience, and quite often those things are necessary for people who are going through very difficult periods because you need something to hold on to at moments of despair, moments of defeat.  I mean, struggles are not just one continuous victory; there are many, many moments of despair, and those are times when people can fall back on reading poetry or short stories or essays which give them a sense of vision, of identification, of feeling of hope.  But it's difficult to write long pieces or scholarly pieces in that kind of situation.  It requires somebody who would be very aware of the situation and who can also distance himself - which is very difficult.  Especially as a writer, you probably in many ways make sure that you are more aware of what is happening around you, and by that very fact you then feel obliged to partake in what is happening around you. 

JOSEFA:  In a poetry reading at the University of California, Berkeley, I heard you say that you don't have many love poems.  Yet I find many love poems in A Celebration of Flames.  Of course, it is a love imagery entwined with pain, blood and violence at times, for example, the poem "Bouquets of Pain."  Would you say that this outlook on love is present in most of your poetry? 

FAROUK:  No, what I said was that many white academics and critics have said that blacks are not capable of writing about love - that they only write about blood and thunder stuff, or political stuff - that they cannot write love poetry.  My main idea, especially with the collection A Celebration of Flames, was to try and capture what it is, with all your sensitivities intact, to live in an oppressive regime.  And as a collection it probably makes obvious that it becomes a very, very painful experience.  But also, at the other level, that in South Africa everything is just so intertwined that your personal life is not your personal life, in any way at all - whether you're an activist or not.  For people who are maybe just going to work, and who don't want to get involved in politics and who would just like to lead a kind of normal life under the circumstances and not want to make whatever deprivations there are even worse - people like that still have their lives disrupted all the time, because it's such an indiscriminate kind of situation where almost everything you do or don't do gets dictated to by the political situation.  The laws are just so pervasive about so many things: like where you can live, about which hospital you can go to, about which bus you can ride, until recently about whom you could marry ... which cemetery you're buried in - everything is determined by law - which ambulance you can be put in.  So that obviously with that kind of almost omniscience of the law - that even who you fall in love with is not only predetermined by God, if you believe in God, but it is also predetermined by the state because of the Group Areas Act.  I mean, who are the people that you are most likely to interact with?  They are people that are living near to you.  Who are your friends going to become?  All those things are determined by the laws of the country.  So that it creeps into every aspect of your life and therefore it also creeps into your personal life, obviously, and therefore it also creeps into your relationship and it colours your relationships.  For instance, a woman who would just like to get married and want to raise a family and have a house …  I mean it doesn't happen because of the migrant labour laws.  The men are in the cities; the women are in the rural areas.  The man sees the wife once a year for two or three weeks.  So, family life is disrupted.  Also, the police can come in the middle of the night just looking for documents or if you're illegally in that area.  So you don't have to be overly politically active for your life to be disrupted all the time.  Ordinary lives are disrupted all the time by things that are political.  From my own experience I see how even personal relationships, friendships or other relationships that you have can be very severely disrupted by things that are not only of your own making.  I mean, for most people here for instance, a relationship would be compatible or incompatible basically because of whether the two people themselves can work things out.  But, in our situation it doesn't only mean that, it can mean ideological differences, it can mean organisational differences, it can mean interference from the state at different levels, or it can mean that your harassment causes problems within the relationship - so all those things obviously affect your life at a very personal level.  And also if you are acutely aware of what's happening in the country, all that begins to have a presence in your life which is quite strong; your personal life, your personal pleasures quite often get intermingled with the blood and violence and the shooting and the tear gas that's just around the corner. 

JOSEFA:  As a way of concluding our interview, tell us what your plans as a writer are.  Your reputation has been basically established as a poet; but I hear that you plan to write a novel and more short stories.  Is this change a result of your absence from South Africa? 

FAROUK:  No.  I've always had - well, for quite a while I've had, especially the one novel in mind - which I have already started writing …  In fact, I started writing it twice, and twice very major upheavals occurred in South Africa, and I had to put it aside.  So, in many ways the novel is structured in my mind, but it requires a period when I can sit down and write the novel.  Short stories are sort of in-between things, so there are obviously phases of relative calm in South Africa, and those are probably times when you can or could write short stories; but also because the voice of what is happening in South Africa has been so muted or so denied or so obliterated, that for some of us who have developed the skills to write, it almost becomes a kind of obligation to try and capture what is happening in South Africa.  Most of us are just not writers, we also have jobs and we are also involved in political organizations at some level, in some way or another - we’re just not poets, we're just not any one specific thing.  Journalists in South Africa are very often also very active political people.  If poetry is the thing you write best, you also, at moments, feel that you have to write an essay or write a newspaper article or write a short story or a novel even, because that is going to explain what you are trying to say much better.  So, the circumstances force you to do all these different things in all these different ways.  It obviously becomes a very demanding occupation in South Africa. 

JOSEFA:  What will you do when you go back? 

FAROUK:  Well, I'll be going back to the clinic that I was working at in Alexandra Township, which is on the edge of Johannesburg, a highly deprived urban slum.  So, again, even your medical work obviously relates very much to your social surroundings and therefore also to the political situation.  Just everything is so interrelated for us.  And between everything else I'll be writing … 


© farouk asvat & © josefa salmón.  All rights reserved.

[] Acknowledgements:

The interview took place at the University of Berkeley, California, in May, 1989;

It was translated into Portuguese by Josefa Salmón,
&
published as:

     A força da palavra (the power of words) in:
          Cadernos Do Terceiro Mundo, (Third World),
               (Manaus, Brazil, # 135, p35-40, August 1990).

     Weapons of Words (kindle, 2016);
     Weapons of Words (amazon paperback, p77, 2016).

     • published with the kind permission of Josefa Salmón.

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the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
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© farouk asvat.  All rights reserved.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

MODERN ARAB LITERATURE

MODERN ARAB LITERATURE:  
     A CLASH OF CULTURES  
© Farouk Asvat  

     In the last thirty years the Arab people have experienced a period of acute change; it has been a society in the throes of a revolution.  And Egyptian fiction, in reflecting the varied emotions of such a period, gives an indication of a people under the strains of sudden social, political and cultural change, following centuries of established custom and order.  Arab writers, like writers throughout the supposed Third World’, have had to transcend these traditions, and depart from techniques that have been the accepted norm for centuries; they have had to provide a vision of their own, to find a way through a labyrinth of contradictory cultural influences, so that they could speak to the Arabs of today - torn between East and West, socialism and capitalism, European values and Islamic values - about new things in a new way.  

     It is not easy to transcend the traditions of a language that had been the accepted custom for centuries to establish a new norm consonant with the modern world.  The struggle for a better life in the Third World’ has to be more arduous and continuous, better equipped to protect itself and ensure its growth, and more scientifically planned - without losing its essential humanity - to achieve success and ultimate victory.  The engaged writer is thus face to face with himself: he is either sincere or not; she is either original or not, he is either a poet or not.  Therefore to read modern literature- the geniuses among them - is to feel the pulse of the modern world.  


[§] MODERN ARAB POETRY

     Arabs in the modern world are eagerly groping for a place under the sun, anxiously trying to discover a national identity amidst contradictory ideologies.  In their spiritual malaise they are torn between Arab values and Western values, between exploitation and socialism, between populism and nationalism.  

     And nobody has succeeded better than poets in reflecting the varied emotions of such a period.  The contemporary Arab poets have confronted the shattering experiences of wars, coups d'états and civil strife.  The revolutionary poets have cast off the outworn conventions of the classical tradition, and have rebelled against the clichés (verbal and emotional) that have dogged Arabic writing.  

     Their poetry portrays a picture of a people under the stress of sudden social, political and intellectual change; and the poets have had to provide a vision of their own, find their way through a maze of foreign cultural influences in order to speak to the Arabs of today about new things in a new way.  

     The Second World War, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the invasion of Lebanon by Zionist forces all contributed to the upheaval.  But it was the Palestinian wars, more than anything else, that laid bare the inefficiency of traditional Arab social structures that has been existing by sheer inertia, - its inadequacy in the face of modern technology and organization made abundantly clear.  All that was hopeful and honest in the Arab world was crying out for change; and all that was mean and evil tried to suppress this cry.  And change did not come easily, nor was it accepted without resistance; and more than once the Arabs found themselves divided among themselves.  The socialist revolution that some of them had adopted was shown to be insufficient; they realized that it had to be more radical and extensive; that their struggle for a better life, like that of others in the ‘Third World’, had to be more arduous and continuous, better equipped to protect itself and ensure its growth, and more scientifically planned to achieve success and ultimate victory.  

     Incessantly pressing was their need for a genuine entry into modernity, an authentic freedom from the crippling shackles of traditional modes of thought, and a real grip on the power of science and technology to enhance the quality of Arab life.  

     It was not easy for the poets to transcend the traditions of a language and poetic technique that had been the accepted norm for fifteen centuries, in order to establish a new norm consonant with their new vision.  They suffered from excruciating agonies of the soul, as they honestly tried to formulate a vision that would be authentically theirs, in the maze of foreign cultural influences.  Their poetic sensibilities were put to a hard test, and only a few were able to resolve the tensions creatively and meaningfully.  

     Since the 1940's, Arab poetry has been dominated by four major developments: the Taf'ila Movement (1947-1957), the Majallat Shi'r Movement (1957-1967), the June 1967 Experience (1967-1982) and the Beirut Experience (1982 onwards).  

     The Taf'ila Movement started in 1947 with the publication by Nazik al-Mala'ika and Badr Shakir al-Sayyab of two experimental poems, whose compositions represented an act of defiance against established poetic values.  Others followed, creating more flexible forms that freed poetry from the sentimental indulgence of the earlier escapist poetry.  The association of some of these poets with the Iraqi Communist Party helped to sharpen their awareness of the social problems of the country, leading to persecution and exile, which in turn strengthened their resolve.  Al-Sayyab's Rain Song exemplified this period, describing the abuses of power in Iraq.  

     The Majallat Shi'r Movement originated with Yusuf al-Khal's magazine Shi'r.  Using historical and mythological themes to interpret contemporary situations, reflecting political and social realities and projecting a vision of the future, they attempted to create their own idiom.  They also evaluated their classical poetic heritage, linking it with the positive elements of other cultures.  Most of the Shi'r poets were Christian, thus broadening the scope of Arab poetry and insight into other cultures.  The Shi'r poets have been responsible for radically changing people's views on classical and modern poetry, and their ability to fuse classical techniques with Symbolist, Modernist, Futurist, Imagist, Dada and Surrealist theories on poetry was one of their main achievements, and represented a historic literary advance.  

     Israel's sweeping victory over the Arabs in the Huzairan (June 1967) War stunned the Arab world.  Nizar Qabbani's poem, Footnotes To The Book Of The Setback, captured the mood of a nation shattered by defeat, and was banned throughout the Arab world after its initial publication.  But it was smuggled into every Arab country, printed surreptitiously, and learnt by heart; and released a flood of political frustration and anger that found expression in what became known as 'The June Literature'.  And the 'Resistance Poets,' Mahmoud Darwish, Samih al-Qasim and Rashid Hussein (the latter living in Israel), regarded poetry as the only way of asserting their Arab identity within an alien culture.  

     In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, and the destruction of Beirut had a devastating effect on Arab culture.  The street, the desert, and the sea became recurring themes in the poetry of Beirut under siege.  A note of desperation pervades these poems, exposing Palestinian vulnerability, taking the Palestinian leaders to task for selling false hopes to their people, showing the lack of ideological direction in the Palestinian leadership.  As Darwish cried out:  

     We have a country of words.  Speak, speak so we may know the end of this travel.

     Modern Arab poetry thus has a tragic character consonant with its environment, stemming from a tragic conception of life, from an understanding of being as a continuous conflict in which people are eternally making choices, eternally carrying a burden, eternally making sacrifices, sincerely preoccupied with an understanding of life.  Not interested in a description of it from the outside, the poets are bent on experiencing it within themselves.  

     The modern Arab poet thus has to confront not only his society, but also himself; - and paying the price in spiritual anguish, he has been ready to be a martyr.  

     But the strength of the modern Arab poet lies in the fact that he writes about the misery and tragedy of individuals who suffer the effects of politicians obsessed with the old illusions of grandeur.  The politician proclaims nationalism while promoting sectional and personal interests.  The poet proclaims the individual and promotes dignity.  One broadcasts propaganda, the other writes the truth.  It naturally follows that Arab poetry is a high-risk business.  

     And this restless search for personal and social happiness and salvation is at the root of the new Arabic poetry.  It is tragic inasmuch as the existential riddle of life finds no final solution in it.  A mystical dedication to truth, a resilience in struggle, a readiness for crucifixion and a hope in resurrection continue to be its main themes.  To read it is to feel the pulse of the modern Arab world.  

     These themes are excellently explored in Modern Arab Poets, translated and edited by Issa J Boullata; Modern Poetry Of The Arab World, translated and edited by Abdullah al-Udhari; Selected Poems by Adonis; and The Music Of Human Flesh by Mahmoud Darwish.  


[§] MODERN ARAB LITERATURE

     "It is the Egyptians who have given form and structure to story-telling as an Arab literary art."  
     • P J Vatikiotis (The Times Literary Supplement). 

     The short story is the most popular form of written Arabic literature (as opposed to song and oral poetry); it is most developed in Egypt, and it is the Egyptians who have consistently exhibited a special talent among Arabic speakers for fiction.  

     "They have managed, particularly in the past twenty years, to develop the short story, novel and drama to a fairly high artistic standard, despite the suspicion by the religious establishment that fiction is corrupt because it deals with love and man's desires and weaknesses, fears and torments, all of them areas of life that are inappropriate for public revelation …; not to mention antagonism to if for being of infidel-foreign-provenance …" (Vatikiotis).  

     The best writer in this genre is surely Yusuf Idris, whose poignant short stories are collected as The Cheapest Nights.  Another collection of stories in this series is Sonallah Ibrahim's The Smell Of It

     Naguib Mahfouz is the best-known and most successful Arabic novelist.  He has published about twenty volumes of novels and short stories.  The only English translations at present are of as Midaq Alley (Zuqāq al Midaq), a vivid description of a vibrant alley in the back streets of Cairo, serving as a microcosm for the country; which also has the best reasons for going on the hajj; and Miramar, which relates the interaction of the residents of a small hotel in Alexandria (which also serves as a microcosm for Egypt) - from the intricate perspective of each of the residents in turn.  

     A writer newly available in the same series is Fathy Ghanem with The Man Who Lost His Shadow.  

     The only collection of Arabic plays in the series is Tewfik Al-Hakim's Fate Of A Cockroach and other plays of freedom.  

     A valuable introduction to Egyptian poetry is provided in Modern Arab Poets, edited by I Boullata, and Salah 'Abd al-Sabur's poignant and intensely passionate poems.  

     Non-Egyptian writers in this series include the Sudanese Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration To The North (a novel) and The Wedding of Zein (a collection of short stories); Tawfiq Yusuf Awad's Death In Beirut; and the Palestinian, Mahmoud Darwish's Selected Poems


[] EGYPTIAN SHORT STORIES
     selected and translated by Denys Johnson-Davies 

     This is an excellent introduction to modern Egyptian writing, comprising stories by 17 authors, including Yusuf Idris, the best in the genre, and whose collection of selected stories is available in English as The Cheapest Nights.  Furthermore, Johnson-Davies' translations are of such high quality that they give English readers the impression the stories were originally written in English.  

     Edward El-Kharrat's Within the Walls is the best and most powerful and evocative story in the collection.  It is the tale of Haniyya, a young widow who challenges the môres of her village, with tragic consequences.  The language is beautifully imaginative and gently handled, just as the story itself is carefully developed to its climax.  

     Although El-Kharrat has produced only two volumes of short stories, he is a major influence on the modern literary movement in Egypt.  

     Lutfi Al-Khouli's The Man Who Saw The Sole Of His Left Foot In A Cracked Mirror, is a surrealistic story unfolding on the thought-experiences of a Cairo man whose more or less wife had been unfaithful to him, and whose twin-brother does not return from an ill-fated trip into the desert.  

     Al-Khouli, who observes that "the eye does not see everything in things," has been in and out of prison 12 times because of his political activities.  He has published two volumes of short stories, and political works including Conversations with Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre.  

     Nabil Gorgy's Yusuf Murad Morcos is a lovely little piece, tongue-in-cheek, about Yusuf's life, love, career and marriage – it is a tragedy handled as comedy in the most underhand manner.  

     The Conjurer Made Off With The Dish by Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt's best-known novelist, examines fate as it affects a young boy sent to buy beans.  

     Yusuf Idris' House of Flesh is the story of a blind Qur'an reciter who assumes further blindness to absolve his responsibilities; and his relationship with the widow he marries, and her three ugly daughters.  This story is not included in The Cheapest Nights, but is a good example of Idris' concern with the struggling poor.  

     Mohamed El-Bisatie's Conversations From The Third Floor is between the wife standing outside the prison yard and her imprisoned husband.  

     Suleiman Fayyad's The Accusation is a pitiful, but unfortunately long-winded story.  

     A Place Under The Dome by Abdul Rahman Fahmy is the sad story of the eccentric, indefatigable Sheikh Sabir. 

     In Yusuf Shaouni's The Crush of Life, the obese bus conductor Fathi Abdoul Rasoul, born in the countryside, develops a phobia for overcrowding - it deals with the tragic effects his obesity and ocholophobia have on him. 

     The final story, by Gamal Atia Ibrahim, The Child and the King, tells of an infant's upbringing during the reign of a King, and during the Revolution, and the effects his father's attitudes have on him in later life.  

     An interesting aspect of this collection worth considering is that most of these writers were politically active or imprisoned, and yet, contrasting it to South African writing, their writing is not political per se, but socially engagé nevertheless. 

     Though a few of the stories are mediocre, the collection is a very good exposition of Egyptian writing today, covering a wide field of talent; and explains why the short story is the most popular form of Arabic fictional literature.  


[] THE MAN WHO LOST HIS SHADOW
     by Fathy Ghanem

     Fathy Ghanem was born in Egypt in 1924 and became editor of Sabah Al-Khair.  His first novel satirised a well-meant attempt to resettle peasants; but the Cairo press forms the background of much of his later writing.  

     The story of The Man Who Lost His Shadow is so deceptively simple, the reading so rapid, one gets so subtly involved with the main characters, one feels part of their lives - as if first Mabruka, then Samia, then Muhammad Nagi, and then Yusif himself, are confiding their selves to us.  

     The story revolves around Yusif Hamid, the young and ambitious son of a teacher, as he enters into the jungle of Cairo journalism.  We see him through the minds of Mabruka (a young peasant girl come to Cairo to work for the aristocratic Rateb Bey, and then works for Yusuf's father whom she marries); Samia (the beautiful girl having ambitions of becoming a famous actress, who ends up loving Yusif); Muhammad Nagi (the foremost Cairo editor eventually dethroned by Yusif); and then we see via himself Yusif's rise to power, and his control over so many lives - except perhaps his own and that of a girl he desires.  

     There is much interweaving of the characters' lives, but the pivotal dilemma is that of Yusif, as he himself reflects: "How was it I grew up, acquired knowledge, fame and fortune, yet lost myself."

     Francis King has called Ghanem's style "A sober and lucid realism worthy of Maupassant."  Kingsley Amis, talking on BBC radio, remarked: "...what I admire is the sheer literary skill with which the material is shaped and handled ..."  

     The cover design (for this edition) by Ahmed Mustapha is imaginative, and the novel itself is fast reading, with rapid plot and character development, moving from scene to scene without the laborious mental conflicts and scene descriptions characteristic of so much Western literature.  But the tale is not one of cozy irony - it is filled with those moments of truth that are obvious yet seldom mentioned but immediately recognised; statements that explain life for one fleeting instant to be made ambiguous by the actions of the protagonists themselves.  


[§] THE CHEAPEST NIGHTS
     by Yusuf Idris

     "Yusuf Idris … is the renovator and genius of the short story."  
          Tewfik al Hakim  

     Yusuf Idris' contact with the working class and the struggling poor enables him to portray such vivid and unforgettable characters as the perplexed peasant Abdul Kerim, the red-haired temptress Li-Li, the impotent policeman Ramadan, the hard-up Abdou, and the long-suffering El Shabrawi.  

     Yusuf Idris is one of the leading figures in modern Egyptian literature, and the best in the genre of the short story.  This collection of 15 of his finest pieces reveals his love and deep attachment to the rural surroundings, and his compassion, understanding and ultimate faith in humanity.  But his stories are also powerful and immediate reflections of his own rebellious life.  

     Idris' stories are devoid of a central plot, and the simplicity of his themes gives vigour to his writing: he simply introduces us into a very real world making us share the experiences of his perfectly sketched characters.  He captures their outward behaviour through a few masterly strokes, revealing their emotions and reactions without resorting to psychological analysis.  We see this against their destiny and against the human condition - but Idris does not pass judgement on any of his characters, although a moral is implicit in the narrative.  

     Yusuf Idris' most vivid character is the fellah (or peasant) in his daily confrontation with the higher strata of society, and the growing bureaucracy; and his day-to-day struggles to feed himself and his ever­enlarging family, so that one type of character remains dominant: the frustrated, ambitious, idealistic young, but poor man, unable to fulfill his vision due to the harsh environment and the rigours of life.  

     In The Cheapest Nights itself, Abdul Kerim, devoid of entertainment for lack of money, returns each night to his poverty-ridden home and to his wife "with her brood of six" to indulge in the only pastime he can afford.  It is an excellent, descriptive story seen through Kerim's mind, a man whose perplexity is greater than he can deal with - so that his fatalistic cynicism, his vituperation, is all that he possesses.  

     In You Are Everything To Me, Ramadan, the ageing policeman, loses his virility, and torn between despair and humiliation, he pursues every means to regain it, but finally resigns himself to a transferred comfort.  

     In The Errand, El Shabrawi volunteers to take an insane woman by train to Cairo, the city he hankers to return to - but the bureaucracy of Cairo and the mentally disturbed woman have an unexpected effect on El Shabrawi.  

     In Hard Up, Abdou is broke, as always.  He moves from job to job between periods of unemployment, until he discovers an ingenious method to earn his money, but even that doesn't last.  The story strongly puts the point that a man must even sell his blood just to stay alive.  

     The Queue deals with the thwarted attempts of a landowner to deprive the poor of their marketplace, and the determination and ingenuity of the poor in always finding a way to make a living.  

     In The Funeral Ceremony, Abou'l Metwalli has no time for civilities - driving a bargain, performing the mere formalities, to get the rituals over with - even in the presence of death.  It shows with stark simplicity the dire struggles for daily bread.  

     All On A Summer's Night is a pathetic story of the effects a city-wise braggart's stories have on a group of pubertal peasant boys.  The narrative is well-developed to its climax, and the secret dreams of the young farm-workers are revealed with remarkable sensitivity.  

     In The Caller In The Night, Saleh believes everything the medical student tells him, so that his unforgivable ignorance and blind faith have tragic consequence.  

     In The Dregs Of The City, Judge Abdallah, a bachelor, uses his obsequious servant Farghali to hire a young female servant.  The story gives a very good descriptive contrast between the rich and the poor areas of Cairo.  

     Did You Have To Turn On The Lights Li-Li, is the most delightful, and in the end, rather sad story of Imam Abdel Al, who comes to lead a drugged community onto the right path, only to do battle with the devil incarnate, the half-Egyptian, half-English, red-haired temptress Li-Li, who only gives herself to foreigners.  It would be rather cruel to reveal the ending, which is absolutely delicious. 

     Death From Old Age:  Intimation s on life and death in a philosophical, descriptive narrative - those nearest death making a living from the death of others.  

     Bringing In The Bride deals with the strange custom of bringing in the bride, but it is also perhaps a comment on how generosity can be taken advantage of.  

     The Shame is set on a farm, where "private affairs need not remain private."  The story demonstrates Yusuf Idris' shrewd understanding of the fellahin mind.  

     Because The Day Of Judgement Never Comes is the story of Ibrahim's premature discovery of life, and himself, in an overcrowded room.  Leading to the ultimate realization of the truth of his own origins, it is about the painful loss of innocence.  

     The Freak is an allegorical tale of the fear people have of their innermost truths and of their clandestine activities being discovered.  


●     Yusuf Idris was born in 1927 in an Egyptian village, and his family moved a great deal from one town in the Delta to another before finally settling in Cairo.  

     He studied medicine, but his years as a student were increasingly interrupted by the turbulent political situation in Egypt: he took part in demonstrations against the British and the corrupt system of King Farouk; and he was responsible for radical publications which led to his suspension from college, and to his imprisonment.  After graduation he worked at a government hospital, but his revolutionary vocation continued.  He joined underground organisations fighting the British, and he supported Nasser's rise to power, but soon became disillusioned, when he realised that the revolution had accomplished few of its glowing promises.  Idris was arrested and incarcerated; and during his detention he joined the Communist Party, only to resign when he realised he could never accept the totalitarian side of communism.  

     Idris practiced medicine for a time, travelled extensively in the Arab world, and became a government health inspector.  Butin 1960, having decided to devote himself entirely to writing, he gave up medicine, and became editor of a Cairo newspaper.  

     In 1961 he joined the freedom fighters in the Algerian mountains, and remained there for six months fighting the French, until he was wounded.  He was later decorated for valour by the Algerian government.  

     Yusuf Idris' literary career began when he was a medical student.  His short stories began to appear in a prominent Cairo newspaper and a leading weekly magazine.  In 1954 his first collection of stories was published as Arkhas Layali (The Cheapest Nights).  In 1959 Qua'a Al Madina (The Dregs Of The City) appeared; followed by Hadi'that Sharaf (The Shame) in 1960.  Akher al Dunya (Ends Of The Earth) appeared in 1961, followed by Lughat ul Ay Ay (The Language Of Pain) in 1967.  In 1970 Beit Men Lahm (House of Flesh) appeared.  

     The Cheapest Nights is the first time his works have been published in English, and includes, at the author's request, stories from each of the above six collections in order to represent work from every stage of his development as a writer.  

     Yusuf Idris is best known as a short story writer, but he is also an established journalist, has published novels, and is a playwright of great originality: his plays are mostly comedies with political overtones written in colloquial language.  

     Idris is essentially a socialist writer and brings to his stories a unique ability to exploit both the classical and colloquial languages to his literary purposes.  Idris' style is unique: he makes a deliberate distinction between the language spoken by his characters and that which he assumes when he himself takes over the narrative.  This subtle alternation of spoken and classical Arabic enhances the realism of his stories, and expresses his own individuality as a writer.  (Unfortunately the distinction is lost in the English translation).  This innovation raised an outcry among Arab critics initially, but they eventually capitulated, when it became evident that the Arab reader was for the first time savouring a purely indigenous product - a stark expression of himself.  

     Idris' short stories have been singled out for particular praise, and much of his work has been translated into Russian and other European languages.  And this book has been accepted in the Contemporary Arab Authors Series as part of the Translations Collections of UNESCO.  

     Taha Hussein, the eminent Egyptian writer and scholar hailed Yusuf as a young writer of outstanding talent.  Tewfik al Hakim, the most famous Arab playwright, called Yusuf Idris "the renovator and genius of the short story."  Michael Petrie­Ritchie commented: "As a social document, The Cheapest Nights is absorbing; as a series of character studies it is both vivid and moving."  

     Yusuf Idris is no stranger to censorship and persecution for his humanitarian attitude to the plight of Egypt's poor.  And success and recognition have not diverted him from political issues.  His play, The Schemers, was banned for being highly critical of Nasser's policies; and as literary editor of Cairo's highly influential newspaper Al Ahram he was sacked once under King Farouk, four times under Nasser, and once under Sadat so far.  

     From the beginning of his literary career, Idris has been concerned to portray life as he saw it, with all its anxieties and blemishes.  As a writer he sees himself as the "social lungs for the people to breathe through."  He says that a writer differs from other people in that he is more impressionable, with a keener sensitivity to his surroundings, and has a part to play in society.  And his views remain the same today as they did more than two decades ago: that there must be change, an improvement in the lot of the majority of the people.  

     Yusuf Idris reiterates his conviction that life is a constant process of change with which views and values must keep up.  Nothing must remain static.  Where there is standstill there is no life.  People are not born to accept the situations imposed upon them by previous generations.  He is therefore always alert to new concepts and to new philosophies.  He says that "in a constantly changing world, a writer is a major factor in revolution."  


© farouk asvat

composed: 1980 [Cape Town, South Africa under apartheid]

[] Acknowledgements:

Modern Arab Writers was previously serialized as:

     "Modern Egyptian Literature":
          (Muslim News, Cape Town, p9, 17.10.1980);
     "Egyptian Short Stories":
          (Muslim News, Cape Town, p16, 31.10.1980);
     "The Man Who Lost His Shadow" by Fathy Ghanem:
          (Muslim News, Cape Town, p8, 14.11.1980);
     "The Cheapest Nights" by Yusuf Idris:
          (Muslim News, Cape Town, p8, 28.11.1980).
&
     "A Clash Of Cultures" [Modern Arab Literature]:
          (Sowetan, Argus, Jhb, p14, 29.07.1987);
     "Reflections On Political, Social Realities" [Modern Arab Poetry]:
          (Sowetan, Argus, Jhb, p11, 05.08.1987);
     "Within The Walls" [Egyptian Short Stories]:
          (Sowetan, Argus, Jhb, p13, 12.08.1987);
     "Genius Of The Short Story" [Yusuf Idris]:
          (Sowetan, Argus, Jhb, p10, 19.08.1987);
     "Moulded By Upheaval" [Yusuf Idris]:
          (Sowetan, Argus, Jhb, p17, 26.08.1987).
&
     Weapons of Words (kindle, 2016);
     Weapons of Words (amazon paperback, p50, 2016).

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the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $15 & kindle @ only $5
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the NOVEL The Gathering Of The Storm by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology I Dream In Long Sentences by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology The Wind Still Sings Sad Songs by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology A Celebration Of Flames by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology The Time Of Our Lives by Farouk Asvat
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the anthology Bra Frooks … by Farouk Asvat
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the collection of literary essays Weapons of Words by Farouk Asvat
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© farouk asvat.  All rights reserved.

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No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means whatsoever, or transmitted in any form or any means whatsoever, mechanical or electronic, including recording, printing, photocopying, or via any computerised means or media, including the internet.  This publication shall also not be stored in a retrieval system.  And the writing shall not be sold, lent, hired, resold or circulated in any form or binding or cover other than that in which it is published,
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Permission to publish or reproduce the writings in any format can be obtained from the author.
Reproduction of this work without permission, except for scholarly & nonprofit purposes,
is liable to a payment of 10, 000 ren men bi or US$ 1,500.

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