Ahlam Mosteghanemi Speaks to Visitors of the Sharjah International Book Fair on Creativity, Inspiration and the New Role of Readers
“The success of the Sharjah International Book Fair is not measured by the extraordinary numbers that it has reached but by that rare feeling that we see on the faces of the visitors as they roam the fair: that feeling of passion.” These were the words of renowned Algerian author and novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi who spoke to visitors and fans at the book fair on Friday.
According to Mosteghanemi everyone is a reader and a writer and social media has created an egalitarian system to make that a reality. “Social media has given back the power to readers and defeated those who say that media can create the glory of a particular author. Today, we are all the same on the screen in the presence of a reader who is the sole critic and who passes his judgement without bias or pleasantries that have often negatively affected literary criticism in the Arab World,” she said.
On publishing books, she said that she doesn’t know of any job that is more daring and that writers are always fearful because they know that their books will outlive them and that every page will play a role in their literary destiny.
Meanwhile Mostehanemi says that she transformed her page on Facebook which has 10 million followers to a workshop for her readers as they creatively expressed their thoughts and feelings about what’s happening around them. “I turned from a writer to a reader. There was a sense of competition between them as they knew I would highlight some of their work,” she said, adding that she hopes to be able to publish a book with her readers. “Writing is a preventive medicine for those who lost everything. It makes us feel strong and beautiful.”
Mosteghanemi became popular as a poet while working at the National Radio. She moved to France in the 1970s, earned her PhD degree from the Sorbonne University in the 1980s and in 1998, she won Naguib Mahfouz Literary Prize for her novel “Memory of the Flesh”.