A bold and fascinating novel by the Syrian writer Haifa Bitar. She wrote on the front page: ‘all the characters of this novel are from my imagination but in reality the protagonists of this novel exist here and there despite those who like that and those who don’t! ‘
Generally, Arab literature embodies only part of the truth, because of all the societal and subjective constraints. When we are in the process of defining what is suppressed and silenced, Bitar is talented in constructing inner dialogues and narration in addition to seeing tiny details.
The novel presented many issues with stunningly constructed Arabic language, to describe the conflict between the soul and body, forced marriages, end of love and religions rejection of marriage from ‘the other’ but the core issue was the price of fame in the cultural corrupted context, a conflict experienced by the protagonist and expressed in her deep internal dialogue.
The author of the country as the writer calls him, is 75-year-old, he had offered the young novelist to publish her novel in a trade-off. The conclusion of this deal is You give me a couple of nights and I publish your novel. The writer assumed that getting to know this writer, was one of the most important steps in her writing career. She thought he would help her enter the world of publication and fame. The author of the country did not introduce her to fame, but instead led her to the old publisher, she says:
“I felt him deep inside me trying to value my price. He was really trying to put a price on me – my body, not my book – and his equation was clear: I would go to Beirut and spend three days with him then my novel will be published. It was crystal clear that he wanted me as a woman in order for me to be a published writer.”
Why don’t these people recognize the aging of their bodies? This question was indirectly presented by the writer who stimulated her readers to contemplate it more. These men are trying to stop time at a sexual stage without considering the nature in aging, some theories of psychology claim that this could be a pathological symptom, where the old man here- tries to distort abused women in order for him to coexist with his own deformation.
The same could apply to aging members in political organizations.
The publisher said: “I do not like to be exploited by anyone.” The writer replied, “I’m not a whore.” He dropped his hand and said, “A minute later, your story will be in the hotel’s safe office”.
I stood in front of the mirror and I was free as a cloud, pure as a tear drop, happiness was dripping in my soul.