Yasmina Khadra and Waciny Laredj spoke about their desires and inspirations at a session titled ‘The novel and its elements’, at the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair
Sharjah, October 9, 2021
The 40th Sharjah International Book Fair was the meeting point for two renowned Algerian authors, Yasmina Khadra and Waciny Laredj, who shared their views on writing novels at a session titled ‘The novel and its elements’. The panel was moderated by Mohammed Majid Al Suwaidi.
Initiating the session, Yasmina Khadra revealed that his real name is Mohammed Moulessehoul. He had served in the military and had written his first six books under his own name before opting for a pseudonym derived from his wife’s name to avoid possible repercussions. He said the urge to write had taken root in him early, influenced by the many poets in his family.
Khadra has authored around 40 novels, many of which have been adapted into films. Some of his notable works include The Swallows of Kabul and What the Day Owes the Night.
The prolific writer said he viewed literature as a revolution, and a struggle for creativity. He emphasised that he still had big dreams of his works reaching the farthest corners of the earth. This despite the fact that his works are the most translated among French authors who are alive today.
Speaking about what inspired his writings, Khadra said he had many ideas to convey, including about religious terrorism and correcting the stereotyped image of Muslims.
He said: “Books are a man’s best companion. We need to teach children and youth that intellectuals and authors are the best teachers, and books play a great role in nurturing us.” He concluded by saying that international book fairs play a pivotal role in highlighting the value of books.
Waciny Laredj, who won the Sheikh Zayed Prize for Literature in 2007 and has written many bestsellers including The Andalusian House, Butterfly Kingdom, and Casanova’s Women, said that he viewed writing as a journey into the human psyche. He said every little detail mattered in penning a great novel.
He said: “Writing a novel may take a heavy toll on you. To me, writing is about happiness, and I feel every author should think about writing a story that would spread joy.”
Laredj, who now teaches at Université Paris III-New Sorbonne, spoke about his experience writing a novel based on Lebanese author Mai Ziadeh’s life. He had retraced her footsteps, journeying across Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, and even visiting the psychiatric hospital where she underwent treatment, to get the nuances right.