The Lives of Others

Let me begin with a certified cliché: It’s not very easy to be a single woman in an Oriental society. Well, actually I tend to believe this is the case in any society, for different reasons. It’s not only about people’s expectations of you, sometimes it’s because they don’t expect that much.

Let me clear up any possible confusion by this little example: My cousin used to freelance for this company through this man. One day he called her to ask if she could take a new assignment, but she said she couldn’t because she didn’t have much time on her hands, to which he replied: “But why wouldn’t you have time? You’re not married or anything”.

You see what I’m getting at?

Sometimes people would assume that since you’re not married or you don’t have kids then you don’t have a life, and hence you should live their life. You should do their work, babysit their kids, run their errands, etc. And it’s not because they are trying to take advantage of you, it’s just the general idea, and it’s up to you to point that fallacy out.

I remember when my niece started getting serious homework at school. My sister tried somehow to get me to be the one to help her with it, so I had to stop her right there and tell her I didn’t have the time or the nerve for it, because although I love her girls to the nearest viable planet and back, they are her kids, her responsibility, not mine – although I still do it on the odd occasion, so it’s the exception not the rule.

So, get used to it. People could expect too much and too little of you. They could expect you to live their life as the natural course of things, and you owe it to yourself to set things right and make it clear that you do have a life, even if it’s not quite what they expect.

This is not a call to be a selfish witch, but rather a call not to let your selflessness make people take you for granted and finally end up living their lives, fragments of different lives, instead of being out there making a life of your own.

Theeb: A Review

theeb

 

So finally today I got to see Theeb, the Jordanian movie I’ve been waiting to see for so long. Perhaps a little longer than most people as I had the pleasure of working on it (well, not exactly on it, more like on the script for translation purposes, but I like to think I had something to do with it anyway). Of course that was almost 3 years ago, which goes to say how much work has been put into this movie, and to my delight I can safely say now after watching it that it certainly paid off – as if it wasn’t enough that it won best Arabic movie at Abu Dhabi Film Festival or best director at Venice Film Festival – well, I like to act like my opinion matters too.

The film follows the journey of 10 year-old Theeb through the treacherous terrain of the Arabian desert amid the chaos of the early 1900s. The story itself is quite deep, the kind that leaves you mesmerized in your seat when the end credits start rolling on. It excites numerous questions in your mind as it deals with themes of brotherhood, loyalty, betrayal and survival trough unimaginable circumstances, where friends could turn to foes and foes could turn to friends at the pull of a trigger. But, most of all, it’s a story of a little boy’s journey into maturity, from the comfort of his tribal home and into the real world where the strong eats the weak.

Technically speaking, the movie is a visual feast. From the breath-taking scenery of the very picturesque Wadi Rum to the great cinematography that gives the scenes a certain aura of mysticism and makes them beat with life despite the shadow of eminent death that prevails throughout the movie. The perfect complement for all that was the music and sound effects, which were of utmost importance in a movie with such little dialogue, filling in the blanks, speaking unspoken thoughts.

However, I still think the winning quality of this movie was its authenticity. Not only were the actors all local Bedouins living in Wadi Rum, everything in the movie feels so real and true to reality, which is something that has been and still severely lacking in Jordanian drama and film endeavors.  The acting, by the main characters at least, was so natural, their dialect, the way they dealt with the camels, with everyday instruments, nothing felt fake or overdone, which – I daresay- is a first in the Jordanian drama and movie scene.

All in all, I’m proud to say that this is a Jordanian movie and to recommend it to everyone I know, but I think I would’ve loved it just as much if it came from any other country because, after all is said and done, it’s a beautiful peace of art, really.

The movie is showing now in cinemas in Jordan, Lebanon and UAE, so make sure you don’t miss it if you’re in any of those countries or planning a trip there. You can check the IMDB page or the facebook page
for more info.

A Conversation with Tubby – 12

I was sitting alone at the farthest corner inside the café, sipping peacefully on my tea when he helped himself to the chair across from me.

Me: What do you want?

Tubby: Now, now! Is that anyway to greet an old friend?

Me: What’s with the pretentious language! Who do you think you are, freaking Mr. Darcy?

Tubby: Ah, classical literature references, now who’s being pretentious?

Me: What do you want? Can’t you see I’m enjoying the silence?

Tubby: Hardly so. You’ve been trying to find one good thought to write about to no avail.

Me: So?

Tubby: So I’m here to the rescue.

Me: And how exactly do you intend to help?

Tubby: Let’s see. You’ve had some interesting ideas on the way here. Like when you were stuck in traffic under that bridge

Me: And I started thinking what if the bridge collapsed. That’s not very interesting.

Tubby: Well, the interesting part is that you were wondering if you should leave your car and come to the café anyway.

Me: Your point?

Tubby: It’s funny how you start with something colossal and then forget about it and start thinking about the minor stuff.

Me: What can I say, a life of micro-planning is sure to produce some side effects.

Tubby: well, it’s not only that. You always sweat the small stuff.

Me: No I don’t!

Tubby: Yes you do. Even before going anywhere you start thinking what route you should take despite having been there a zillion times.

Me: That’s unfair, I stopped doing that. That is not to say I like to be prepared. Nothing wrong with having a plan.

Tubby: The best laid plans of mice and men…

Me: Often go astray. I know, I know. I’ve had my fair share of plans going astray. I’m not saying plans should always work, I just like to keep them handy, safety tools you might say.

Tubby: Drop the shrink talk. You’re obsessed with planning.

Me: “Obsessed” is pretty much shrink talk if you ask me.

Tubby: I didn’t ask you.

Me: Very funny.

Tubby: No, really. Think about it. The biggest problem with that bridge collapsing, for you, would be that it messed with your schedule.

Me: Would you please stop psychoanalyzing me? You said you were here to help, you didn’t give me one interesting idea to write about.

Tubby: Why write? Can you just sit here, stare at that cat out of the window and drink your tea? Why do you have to “do” something all the time?

Me: Okay, it’s getting late, I’m getting out of here…

A moment to Reflect

francois

Allow me to take a leave of my senses for a brief moment to contemplate the fact that at this very moment, while we’re busy making calculations, laying out plans, booking flights and worrying about this and that, this little fellow called Francois Langur is jumping freely between limestone caves somewhere in South-West China. He doesn’t have a wireless connection, he doesn’t know if the dress is white or blue, he couldn’t care less about exchange rates and he certainly doesn’t care what day of the week it is. 

Good for you, Francois, good for you.

 

 

 

روتين صباحي

من أهم أسباب شقاء الإنسان محاولاته العبثية لتحدي المنطق. لو كانت حياتنا منطقية لما اضطر أحد إلى الاستيقاظ في السادسة صباحاً تاركاً دفء سريره إلى برد العالم الخارجي من أجل وظيفة بالكاد يكفيه راتبها حتى نهاية الشهر. تلك هي الفكرة التي تتحايل عليّ كل صباح لأبقى هامدة تحت ركام البطانية. لا تتهوري، أي حركة تعني تياراً من الهواء البارد بذلت جهدك لسد كل المنافذ في وجهه، أي حركة تعني انهيار الحصن. خمس دقائق أخرى، ثلاث دقائق. سأتأخر. أفتح عينّي أولاً فتنغلقان تلقائياً كستائر من حديد. أحاول مجدداً، أستجمع قوتي وأنهض جالسة في السرير، أزيح البطانية بحذر كأنني أنزع ضمادات عن جسد محروق، أضع قدمّي على الأرض كمن يستعد للمشي للمرة الأولى بعد غيبوبة دامت عشرين عاماً. أترنح واقفة، أحاول إيجاد توازني بصعوبة، أمدّ ذراعَي وأرفعهما فوق رأسي لأنفض آثار النوم من بين مفاصلي، ثم أنظر إلى السرير فيهمس لي بمكر: “كان النهوض إنجازاً بحد ذاته، لقد فعلتِ ما عليك لهذا اليوم وأكثر، فأعود وأندس تحت البطانية من جديد. خمس دقائق فقط… الحياة صعبة!0

0،، ،، مقطع من نص لم ولن ينشر، على لسان إحدى الشخصيات *

مشاهد

الله يكفينا شر هالضحك

احنا شعب بيستكتر عحاله الفرح. سيك من المثل الشعبي الشهير أعلاه، ولو إنه الواحد بتساءل ليش ما إجا في بال اللي اخترع المثل يقول مثلاً: الله يعطينا خير هالضحك، بدل السلبية اللي هو فيها… بس برضه سيبك من الأمثال، إنت ما بيجيك هاد الشعور مرات؟

أي شعور… الشعور لما تكون مبسوط كتير ومن كتر البسط تحس في إشي غري وتحس إنه في مصيبة جاي، لأنه لسبب ما في وجداننا الداخلي الفرح مرتبط بالمصائب، بأي معادلة ملتوية ما بعرف، بس هاد شعور موجود، يمكن عشان الواحد لما يكون فرحان شغلة بخاف عليها، أو لأننا فعلاً شع بعز الدراما فبنحس حالنا عايشين برواية، والرواية تتطلب وجود مصاعب وعقد وصراعات أمام الشخصية الرئيسية اللي هي احنا

وفي خضم انغماسنا في هذا الشعور الدرامي بننسى “لئن شكرتم لأزيدنكم”، وننسى “أنا عند ظن عبدي بي”، وننسى الكلام اللي قرأناه في كتب التنمية الذاتية  أو اللي سمعناه في فيديوهات وقرأناه في رسائل متناقلة عبر الفيسوك والواتساب، لكن أصلاً شو ضمنك إنه الكل بيقرأ قبل ما يبعت؟

على رأي غوار الطوشة في مسرحية (ضيعة تشرين، أعتقد؟): حط بالخرج، مين بده يقرا

شيخ المحشي

وأنا صغيرة ما كنت أحب شيخ المحشي، تماشياً مع النظام العام إني ما كنت بحب أكل اللبن بشكل عام

مرة من المرات، كنت بصف خامس أظن، كان رمضان وكانت إمي عاملة شيخ المحشي،  أو مخشي الكوسا زي ما نسميه (بضحك الاسم على فكرة، إنه بنحط الخاء بدل الحاء وبنختصر كلمتين في كلمة)

المهم وقتها كنت معزومة عند صاحبتي عالفطور، فقلت لإمي منيح عشان أنا ما بحب مخشي الكوسا. المهم، رحت عند صاحبتي اللي كانت أعز صاحبة إلي بهداك الوقت واللي  بدت صداقتي معها بالصف الرابع لما كانت إذاعة المدرسة تحط أغاني أطفال انجليزية في الفرصة وفجأة لقينا حالنا قاعدين بنرقص رقصات الأطفال الغبية أنا وياها مع بعض – بتعرفوا لما يشبكوا إيديهم ويصيروا يدوروا يمين وشمال

المهم، رحت عندها، وإذا به وقت الفطور طلع الأكل شيخ المحشي

رجعت عالبيت سألتني إمي شوت أكلت قلتلها مخشي كوسا، صارت تضحك شماتة، قلتلها بس كان زاكي… ما هو طبعا عند الناس ما بطلعلك تدلل بدك تاكل غصب عنك، وهيك بتكتشف إنك بتح أكلة معينة أو لأ، حالياً هي من الأكلات المفضلة عندي طبعاً

انقطعت علاقتي بصاحبتي المذكورة بعديها بكم سنة وآخر مرة شفتها كانت بعد التوجيهي في حفلة نجاح صديقة مشتركة بما إنه الدنيا كتير صغيرة، س لقيتها عالفيسبوك من كذا سنة وصارت علاقتي فيها إلكترونية متل علاقتي بكتير ناس

قبل كم يوم كانت مغيرة صورة البروفايل لخلفية سودا مكتو عليها “إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون”. دخلت عشان أعرف مين المتوفي، واكتشفت إنها أمها. انصدمت، مع إني من زمان مش شايفتها، س بسرعة رجعت لبالي صورة أمها وشيخ المحشي والزيارات اللي كنت أروحها عندهم، وخواتها التلاتة اللي كبروا هلأ طبعاً ما شاء الله. ولأنه الدنيا صغيرة اكتشفت إنه أختها لصاحبتي متزوجة واحد بقربلنا وإنه كتير من ستات العيلة بعرفوا أمها اللي توفت وكانوا يحبوها كتير. فكرت في هاي السيدة اللي توفت بعمر صغير نسبياً، وفكرت إنه إذا أنا تضايقت عليها هيك عشان ذكريات مبهمة من عشرين سنة، فشو ممكن يكون شعور بناتها وزوجها وأهلها. لكن برضه قلت لحالي إنها عاشت حياة ثرية، ربت أربع بنات وفرحت فيهم وشافت أحفادها وتركت سيرة طيبة ين الناس وذكريات جميلة أكيد أكتر كتير من جاط شيخ محشي

خطة

تلاقي بيت للبيع مقابل أكتر كافيه بتحب تقعد فيه، تصير تنزل كل يوم تقعد تكتب أو تشتغل، شغلة من تنتين: يا بتزهق المحل وبتعوفه وبتبطل تروح عليه، يا بتسيطر على العالم

The Metamorphosis: The Culture of Dehumanization

Apparently, when it comes to reading, for me this is the year of “catching up”; I’m reading books I should have read years ago under the mantra better late than never. It has an upside, you know, as when you discover Agatha Christie at 30 – Yes, I haven’t read her books as a teenager-  you feel thankful you hadn’t read them and that she wrote so many books that now you’re spoiled for choice.

It was in the same fashion that I picked up The Metamorphosis by Kafka, not only because it’s preposterous to be a writer born in the 20th century and haven’t read anything by Kafka yet, but because of one particular thing I’ve read about how he was the inspiration behind Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as Marquez himself said that when he started reading The Metamorphosis, specifically the very first line where a man wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant cockroach, he had this epiphany that “Anyone can write anything they want”, and from there he went on to write what he wanted indeed, transcending the lines that separate fiction from reality.

I was aware before I started reading that this is a work of literature that has been interpreted, analyzed and dissected over and over again, but I was yet to see for myself what the fuss was all about. In the beginning it seemed like a bad dream, too absurd not only in the sense that the protagonist  Gregor Samsa woke up one day to find that he was transformed into a vermin, but because of his reaction to it. One would imagine that if you were to wake up one morning to find yourself transformed into an insect you would be washed over with panic, wondering what on earth has happened, not worrying about being late to work. You would be busy thinking how you could possibly get back into your human form, not how to arrange your life as to fit the new situation.

But then things started to come into focus, especially as he described the family’s reaction to that metamorphosis, forsaking him, all but his loyal sister, and thinking how they would make ends meet now as they have been depending on him as the main bread-winner in the household. Now it all made sense, Kafka was peeling away at reality, he was showing us the bare truth: the value of the human being in the capitalistic, consumerist world, the ongoing dehumanization as a person is reduced to his net worth: you have money, then you matter. You don’t, then you’re no more than a pest. The only sympathy Gregor gets comes from his sister, and a little bit from his mother, but then even that changes and his sister who was once his biggest advocate becomes his biggest adversary as she urges her father to get rid of that insect who they should not consider to be Gregor anymore, which contributes to his eventual demise. All of that puts into focus another important theme of the story, a scary theme perhaps which people in real life often avoid talking about directly: the limits of sympathy.

I found the last part of the story brilliant; the way guilt is mixed with the feeling of liberation after the cockroach had died. They knew their son and brother was trapped somewhere inside that insect, but they couldn’t help but see it as such, an insect that was making their life harder than it already was. What was also brilliant is that we could see things from Gregor’s point of view as he spoke his mind, and at the same time we could see his family dealing with him based on his outer appearance as the insect he was transformed into, losing the ability to communicate little by little but more importantly, not even trying. The obstacles which the body can put before the mind, and the connection between the two.

All in all, I found the story disturbing, and I have no doubt it was meant to be so, and the more you think about it, the more disturbing it gets. So you can dig into the themes and the symbols in the story, or you can just treat it as a surreal piece of literature and let it mess with your mind however way it pleases. For me, it was inevitably both.

 

On the Charlie Hebdo Shootings

I guess by now everyone has heard of the Charlie Hebdo shootings that took place in Paris last week. To avoid any confusion let me start by making a clear point: I do not condone the attack in anyway and there is no reason in my mind to justify it. It was an act of terrorism, and a stupid one for that matter.

Having established that let me move on to what I found mind boggling about this whole thing. People have been dealing with the issue as a matter of terrorism against freedom of speech, but I really couldn’t see it that way. This was a conflict of extremes. A clash between 2 kind of extremists: On the one obvious side of course we have the killers, those who planned and carried out the armed attack on the newspaper. However, on the other side we have another kind of extremists, those who took it upon themselves to ridicule the beliefs and culture of a large part of the French population, let alone the world, and hence alienate and humiliate them by insulting what they choose to believe in. And in between these two extremes we have hundreds of thousands of French people, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, people of all faiths and ideologies who don’t make it their life quest to insult and ridicule other people’s beliefs or stage terrorist attacks on them.

You cannot ask for a peaceful world if you are not willing to respect other people and their right to believe in whatever they believe in. Again, I’m against terrorism and violence, but I’m also against disrespect and alienation. You know what I’m also against? Double standards. When a person like Netanyahu who killed 17 journalists in Gaza last year goes to Paris to participate in a march for freedom of speech then you know it’s an utter farce. When this same newspaper pretending to defend freedom of speech has fired a cartoonist in 2009 over “anti-Semitic” cartoons then you see that this is a march for elective freedom, one that agrees with the current world order and which the powers that be approve of.

But was it really a shock for this to happen in a country like France? Think about it. A country that keeps bragging about being the land of freedom and equality while continuing to issue discriminatory laws and regulations limiting the freedoms of certain groups of its population, giving way for more resentment and feelings of injustice to build among these groups and giving other groups more reason to be racists and hateful on the micro level, creating a fertile soil for hate and sectarian grudges to thrive in all directions.

Hate breeds hate, and violence breeds even more violence, and people everywhere continue to pay the ultimate price because other people won’t let go of their prejudices, and others give themselves the right to kill over them, end of story.

Observations at the Supermarket

An eminent snow storm is an event of epic proportions in Jordan. After all, it’s not something we’re used to, not even something that happens every year, despite the fact that this is the second year in a row. People are dashing out to stock on bread and groceries like there’s no tomorrow, which would be good if all that shopping kept them home for the next couple of days instead of blocking streets and causing traffic jams which, like the tragic events that took place last year, could cost others their lives. The countdown has begun, few hours before storm Huda graces us with her presence. I woke up this morning with no reason to leave the house, and having finished work early I was looking forward to a day of Agatha Christie books and a wide array of movies to choose from. But then somehow it hit me that this would be probably my last chance to get out of the house for the next few days, and to be honest we didn’t have enough milk for sahlab, and that was reason enough to go on a short drive to the nearby supermarket. The relatively large supermarket was thronging with people. I dodged my way through the aisles, picking things off shelves and returning them again after thinking that it’s not the best idea to have too much chocolate and cookies handy while home-bound. After some negotiations I settled on the final groceries that seemed reasonable enough and stood in the line that formed in front of the cash counter, the like of which this supermarket doesn’t witness too often, it looked like there was a rumored war indeed. Like most people I’m not fond of waiting in queues, it really feels like a waste of time, precious minutes of your life wasted doing nothing if you only choose to stare at the back of the person directly ahead of you and do nothing else. However, sometimes waiting in line has its advantages, like being there to take your surroundings in and perhaps get a load of something interesting or overhear an interesting conversation. As I waited, I caught a glimpse of a fifty-something looking woman standing nearby. The reason I took notice of her was that 3 little girls had just come in and were ecstatic to see her. They were obviously sisters, they looked alike but each of them had a distinctive feature that set her apart from the other two. One had golden curly hair, another one had brown wavy hair and the eldest one had black, slightly wavy hair. The gathered around the older lady and yelled things that indicated she was their grandmother and they were surprised to run into her there. They were acting like they haven’t seen her in ages, which obviously they did since they apparently live in the same area or at least visit often as the grandmother’s reaction wasn’t that of one who hadn’t seen her granddaughters in a year or two. But the girls were going crazy, and the grandmother tried to contain them by humoring them and telling them to go buy whatever they liked (God bless grandmothers, they should rule the world), but they didn’t go off right away as they had something important to tell her which is that they saw her car outside and there was a “boy” in it, to which she responded that it was their grandfather. The whole scene made my day for some reason. The little girls reminded me so much of my nieces, the way they dressed, the way they talked, the way they picked which stuff to buy and how to share. And they were so happy getting chocolate and kinder surprise and whatnot, like they’re getting ready for the storm. I bet they can’t wait for the snow. The age of innocence where you can’t get enough snow and you never want it to melt away. I remember when I was a child how I used to get upset when my father would pray for the snow to go away. Little did I know I would have the same wish years later when snow meant being trapped at home and not being able to run your errands and do what you needed to do. Or to think of all the people to whom snow means unbearably cold nights and leaking roofs. But the snow is coming whether you like it or not. And I’m not going to lie, I am excited about it, I can’t help it. You don’t have to cry yourself to sleep and hate snow to prove that you have compassion with others, but you can help others enjoy the snow instead of suffering through it, anyway you can, because this is the way it should be. Stay warm everyone…

2014 Book Reviews – مراجعات كتب 2014

I love reviewing books, as opposed to rating them. It just doesn’t feel right to judge a book written by Chekov or Gibran with the same system used to judge hotels and restaurants. I mean,  yes you can give a restaurant a 1-star rating because you found a hair in your soup which was served cold 20 minutes after ordering it, but with all due respect who are you to judge Gabriel Garcia Marquez? I’m serious, I remember coming across a review on Goodreads for a reader who gave “100 years of solitude” a 1-star rating because she read a few pages and decided she hated the book. So, I’ve been avoiding the rating thing lately as I find it condescending and self-important. I find it a better exercise to review books, which means giving your personal impressions and opinions about them.  However, I couldn’t do much of that this year, so I decided to review all the books I read briefly by the end of the year, all together in one post. This year I read 8 English books and 13 Arabic books. Less than last year and less that I had planned to but it’s about quality rather than quantity, and I think I’ve read some really good books this year. So here they are, just a quick glance at each of these books, in Arabic for Arabic books and in English for the English ones.

The Importance of Being Earnest: I just love classic plays, comedies in particular, and Oscar Wilde is clearly one of the best. A nice light-read to kick off the year with, exploring themes like love and marriage in an annoyingly simplified and shallow way yet very fitting for a comedy. After all, isn’t this what comedies are all about, having a break from reality and wishing things were that simple?

زمكان: قد لا يكون ثروت الخرباوي أكثر الكتّاب موثوقية، لكن كتابه “زمكان” يحتوي على أفكار تستحق المناقشة ويسلط الضوء على قضايا مهمة في زمن أصبح فيه الدين أداة لبلوغ الغايات السياسية والمصالح الشخصية، وتحول من أداة لتحرير العقول إلى أداة لتعطيلها عن التفكير. لست بحاجة إلى أن تتفق مع كل شيء في الكتاب، لكنه فرصة جميلة للتفكر وإعادة تقييم القناعات في إطار روائي ممتع يمزج الواقع بالخيال، ولعل اختيار شخصية الإمام أحمد بن حنبل كان اختياراً موفقاً لأن محنته تحاكي ما نمر به حالياً من تمزق وانصياع لبعض المسلمات فقط لكونها تمثل رأي السلطة أو الأغلبية الموالية لها.0

The Last Lecture: I remember once reading Tuesdays With Morrie, whose message was: when you learn how to die you learn how to live. I think Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture proved the opposite holds true too. An amazing message-from-beyond-the-grave to read. Randy certainly found a way to live on.

واحة الغروب: رواية حافلة بالرمزية تمزج بين شخصيات وأحداث حقيقية متنقلاً بين الخيال والأحداث التاريخية وواقع مصر في بداية الانتداب البريطاني. أعترف بأنني قرأتها على عجل لكنها رواية تستوقفك تفاصيلها في كثير من المواضع.0

Little Women: Yes, believe it or not, I didn’t read this book when I was thirteen, so I thought I’d catch up now, it’s like being a literary cougar. Well, the book was obviously wrote for “little women”, too long, too preachy, too politically correct except for Jo’s character perhaps which I totally fell in love with, actually if I was to choose a character to relate to out of everything I read it would be Jo. However, there was something about this book that kept me from stopping halfway through and putting it on the “read but never finished” shelf. I don’t know, maybe I felt like I was 13 again, I just wanted to go through with it to the end.

قلوبهم معنا، قنابلهم علينا: أول كتاب أقرؤه لأحلام مستغانمي، وهو ليس رواية بل مجموعة مقالات تتناول في أغلبها العراق قبل وبعد الاحتلال الأمريكي.  المقالات جيدة بشكل عام، ليست عميقة من حيث التحليل السياسي بل هي من المقالات المشحونة بالعاطفة القومية والتي تنتشر كالنار في الهشيم  عبر وسائل الإعلام أثناء الأزمات والحروب.0

سمرقند: رحلة جميلة عبر التاريخ مع عمر الخيام ونظام الملك وحسن الصبّاح. الكتاب يحكي قصتين في زمنين مختلفين، ما بين القرن الحادي عشر للميلاد وبدايات القرن العشرين، وكلا القصتان تتناولان أحداثاً تاريخية في المنطقة التي كانت ولا تزال تشهد فتناً واضطرابات سياسية على اختلافها. الانتقال بين القصتين يتم بسلاسة وبراعة تبقي القارئ مشدوداُ لمعرفة مصير مخطوط عمر الخيام الذي هو الرابط الأساسي بين القصتين.0

The Bastard of Istanbul: Elif Shafak is a master of details, The characters feel so alive that you almost want to look them up on Facebook. On another level, it was good to read about the Arminian massacres from a Turk’s point of view, and the fact that she stood trial and almost went to jail for this book is reason enough to want to read it. Haven’t the powers that be learned their lesson yet? The more you try to ban a book, the more people would want to and will read it.

مصر القديمة: لمحة جميلة عن الحياة وتفاصيلها في مصر الفرعونية. لطالما أثارت الحضارة الفرعونية فضولي وما زالت تدهشني بألغازها التي يظن العلماء أنهم توصلوا إلى حلها وتلك التي ما زالت تستعصي عليهم. الكتاب مترجم عن الانجليزية عن طريق نجيب محفوظ.0

Children of the Days: Oh Galiano! This is the kind of book you would want to read once you hear about. “A calendar of human history”. Each chapter represents a month of the year, and the chapter consists of the days and one significant event in human history that took place or is related to that day. A good read.

مذاق باب شرقي:  كتاب لصديقي الكاتب السوري أحمد قطليش، كتاب بديع وفيه مسحة حزن واضحة، لكن أحمد نفسه يقول “إن السعادة قد تعني أيضاً الحزن الدافئ”. وجدت فيه بعض التكرار للأفكار ونص أو نصين نتيجة كون الكتاب لم يُكتب دفعة واحدة بل كان عبارة عن تجميع لنصوص كتبها أحمد مسبقاً. جميل ويستحق القراءة.0

فرانكشتاين في بغداد: الرواية الحائزة على جائزة البوكر العربية لهذا العام،  تحاكي الوضع الحالي للعراق بكل ما فيه من بؤس وفوضوية ودماء. ستزعجك، كما يفعل الأدب الجيد في كثير من الأحيان.0

أعراس آمنة: يكمن ذكاء ابراهيم نصر الله في هذا الكتاب بتناوله موضوع الشهادة والموت في إطار الزواج والعرس والفرح، لكنه عرس لم يحدث، أو حدث بطريقة أخرى. أعتقد أن عبارة واحدة تلخص موضوع الرواية: “الذي يجبرنا على أن نزغرد في جنازات شهدائنا هو ذلك الذي قتلهم، نزغرد حتى لا نجعله يحس لحظة أنه هزمنا، وإن عشنا سأذكرك أننا سنبكي كثيراً بعد أن نتحرر”.0

Jerusalem in the Quran: In this book, Imran Hussein analyzes past and current political events as well as those expected to take place in future in the light of religious texts from the Holy Quran and Prophetic sayings. Some of his ideas might sound far-fetched and confusing, others sound too extreme, but all in all a good book to shake your mind up.

الفيل الأزرق: لطيف أن تجد روايات جريمة وغموض عربية. شعرت بوجود ثغرات في الرواية، خاصة أنني قرأت روايات انجليزية من نفس النوع فكان من الصعب عدم المقارنة، وكنت أتوقع أن تكون أفضل من ذلك لكن علي الاعتراف بأنه كان من الصعب إطفاء النور بعد الانتهاء من القراءة كل ليلة، ناهيك عن الكوابيس التي تلت إنهاء الرواية. إن كان هدف أحمد مراد في هذا الكتاب إرعاب القارئ فقد نجح في ذلك، معي على الأقل.0

 شاهد عيان: مجموعة من مقالات محمد طمليه تم جمعها في كتاب واحد، جولة في دماغ هذا الرجل العجيب الذي لا يمكنني الادعاء، ولا أظن أنه يمكن لأحد الادعاء، بأنه يفهم كل ما كان يرمي إليه في كل الأوقات. “عمّان لا تكبر، لكنها تتورم”، “المتحمسون الأوغاد”، “هذا وقد تم العثور على شعب مجهول الهوية في ذلك البلد”، “من هد وجد”، كلها تعابير طمليّة بامتياز تجعلك تزيد حنقاً على طمليه  الذي ظل يماطل في كتابة روايته التي توعد أن تكون في مصاف الروايات العالمية حتى سبقه الموت. طمليه ظاهرة حقيقية في الكتابة الساخرة، بل وأعتقد أنه اخترع نوعاً خاصاً به من الكتابة الساخرة يمكن تسميته بـ”السخرية السيريالية”.0

المغالطات المنطقية: قد يكون أفضل كتاب قرأته لهذا العام. يقدم الدكتور عادل مصطفى تشخيصاً مفصلاً لأمراض الحوار في يومنا هذا، في وسائل الإعلام كما في حواراتنا اليومية. في معظم الأجزاء يمكنك أن تميز المغالطة التي يذكرها الكاتب وقد تتذكر أمثلة منها في حياتك اليومية، لكنه يضعها في إطار علمي ويضع عليها اسماً وختماً ويورد كيفية الرد عليها.  أهم حقيقة ستدركها من خلال هذا الكتاب، وقد تكون أدركتها مسبقاً، أن الإعلام العربي يحفل بالمغالطات وأساليب الإقناع الملتوية التي تنطلي على أكثر الناس، أو على كثير من الناس، ومن هنا تفهم سر ثقافة التطبيل والتزمير “ومين ما تجوز إمي بقوله عمي” المتفشية في مجتمعاتنا.0

Me Before You: One of those books you feel were written to be movies, except that this one really makes you think and challenges your beliefs. It tackles the controversial issue of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, and while it didn’t make me change my mind and find it okay to help people end their lives, it certainly made me understand why some people would want to do it. Keep some tissues handy, it could make you cry. Didn’t make me cry – perhaps only welled up- but that’s just me. Trust me, it’s a sad book, regardless of the witty, funny dialogue.

ليون الإفريقي: في كل كتب أمين معلوف التي قرأتها حتى الآن تجد التركيبة نفسها: الأحداث التاريخية المشوقة، الوصف المسهب للمدن وأهلها، والإنسان العالمي غير المنتمي. لا بد من احترام أمين معلوف لأنه استطاع أن يأخذ هاجساً من الواضح أنه أرّقه طويلاً، وهو موضوع الهوية، وينتج منه أدباً بهذا الثراء. ليون الإفريقي كان ممتعاً بكل تفاصيله ومغامراته، خاصة حين تعرف أن ليون الإفريقي شخصية حقيقية وليست من نسج خياله، إلا أنني لم أستطع ألا أكرهه بعض الشيء، فبينما حاول أمين معلوف تصوير البطل على أنه إنسان عالمي لا يتعصب لهوية ولا لوطن ويحيا بمبدأ الحب والتسامح للجميع، لم يسعني سوى الشعور بأنه شخصية هلامية منقادة، إنسان مسير بكل معنى الكلمة، لكن موضوع الهوية موضوع شائك ومعقد أكثر من أن يسمح لنا بإصدار حكم واحد قطعي في حق الشخصية، وأظن أن معلوف كان يدرك هذا الأثر الذي ستتركه الشخصية على القارئ حين لخصه في أحد الحوارات في الكتاب حين قالت زوجة ليون، أو حسن الوزان، مخاطبة إياه: “من أي طينة انت لكي ترضى بفقد مدينة بعد أخرى،  بفقد وطن بعد آخر،  بفقد امرأة بعد أخرى،  من غير أن تنافح أبداَ ومن غير أن تندم أبداً ومن غير أن تلتفت وراءك أبداً؟”0

Niether Here nor There, Travels in Europe: Third book I read for Bill Bryson and first travel book I read for him. I love travel books in general, add Bryson’s wit and sense of humor to that and you’ve got a good book to relax with in the evening. The personal details and impressions, which he expresses with obviously as little political correctness as possible, make you feel like you’re there yourself trekking Europe from North to South. For maximum enjoyment of this book google pictures of the cities as you read about them, and tune down the snobbish and at times racist tone, Bryson can be obnoxious sometimes. Another good tip would be to get Bryson’s number as sometimes you might want to give him a call and remind him he was talking about a city when he drifts too far into his own memories. Another downside is that the book was written in the early 1990’s, so the cities you are reading about must have changed now, but the upside of this is that it’s not just a travel book anymore, it’s a time travel book.

أثقل من رضوى: ظللت أؤجل قراءة هذا الكتاب حتى جاء وقت لا يقبل التأجيل. وفاة رضوى عاشور أشعرتني بالحاجة لقراءته الآن، ولجعله آخر كتاب أقرؤه هذا العام. ما أن تبدأ بقراءة الفصول الأولى حتى تفهم سبب اختيار عنوان الكتاب. لا أدري إن كان السبب أنني قرأته بعد وفاتها بمدة قصيرة أم شيئاً آخر، لكنني شعرت بثقل المرض والأعباء الأخرى التي عاشت رضوى خلالها فبدا الكتاب ثقيلا كئيبا في بداياته، إلا أن الجميل في الأمر أن رضوى كانت تعرف ذلك جيداً، فتجدها تتوقف بعد عدة فصول لتعطي القارئ استراحة وتعترف بثقل المحتوى وتعتذر لأنها تعرف أن المرء لا يبحث عن النكد أو الغم حين يريد قراءة كتاب ما. لكن كلما قرأت أكثر وكلما شعرت بثقل الحياة على رضوى أكثر تزداد عجباً وإعجاباً بهذه المرأة التي ظلت مبتسمة متفائلة راضية رغم كل شيء، التفاؤل الذي تصفه بأنه إصرار ومقاومة. كما يقدم الكتاب صورة عن رضوى ليس ككاتبة فقط، بل كأستاذة وزوجة وأم ومناضلة وابنة بلد. أحببت بشكل خاص المقاطع التي تتحدث فيها عن الكتابة وعلاقتها بالكتابة، كما أحببت حديثها المفصل عن شخصيات بعينها من الأشخاص الذين عرفتهم في مناسبات مختلفة كأن تجمعها بهم علاقة أكاديمية تتحول إلى صداقة عائلية وثيقة أو من جمعتها بهم الثورة فأصبحوا رموزاً شعرت بواجب تجاههم يحتم عليها نقل قصصهم للأجيال القادمة. من أجمل الأشياء في الكتاب أسلوب الخطاب الذي فيه بحيث تتعدى كونها علاقة تقليدية بين كاتبة معروفة وقارئ مجهول، بل تشعر كأنها تعرفك شخصياً، وكأنها تجلس أمامك على طاولة في مقهى تتحدثان في هذا وذاك، تحترمك وتخشى أن تثقل عليك أو أن تضجر منها فتغير الموضوع بين الحين والآخر لتروّح عنك، وربما لو قرأت الكتاب قبل وفاتها لفكرت جدياً في تلبية دعوتها بالاتصال بها وأخذ موعد لمناقشة بعض الأفكار التي طرحتها مع فنجان من القهوة.0