Hamdi Abu Jalil: I do not deliberately use irony in my work, but I use it to understand contradictions

Dialogue – Asmaa Saad

Posted on: Friday, September 16, 2022 – 9:18 PM | Last update: Friday, September 16, 2022 – 9:18 PM

I do not rely entirely on the vernacular, but I use it in the context of the classical
Real crises make writers… and suffering makes them closer to fiction writing
Naguib Mahfouz, transferring the Egyptian novel from man to case

Different language and life experiences tightly blended into a text that never ceases to amaze, this is how the reader feels when reading the works of the writer Hamdi Abu Jalil, who owns a group of distinctive creations, in the form of novels and story collections. Two novels “Retired Thieves” were recently published by Dar Al Shorouk and the “actor”.
Abu Jalil has the literary audacity that enables him to break into fertile worlds, delving into understanding the characters and heroes that escalate events between them to give the reader a literary meal in which many elements are integrated. He said in him: “I grew up in an environment that did not know books, but cherished in becoming a “knight” or “owner of one of the lands.” I was very proud of collecting books and organizing them in a remarkable way, boasting about them all the time. And “Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables”…was the entry point that made me later decide to become a writer. I read it all at once, and I felt as soon as I finished it that I had the ability to write such novels. And that I can express myself well through writing and words, and my first literary reading after Les Miserables is “Fusoul Magazine”.
> Some may be disturbed by the vernacular language in the text, and others consider vernacular as purely Arabic. Why do you favor the vernacular in listing many of your works?
– To be honest with you, I feel all the time that I want to write completely colloquial, but so far I have not used the slang completely in the narration, but I always “use the inclusion of slang within the context of the classical.”
I resort to the vernacular when I find that I cannot express it in the precise, light, lively, open form that is included in the vernacular. Moreover, we do not actually speak the Arabic language in the home and the street, and the paradox is that the literature here is still determined, even with the presence of synonyms in the text in the text, it is necessary to use the vernacular.
Since I am a Bedouin in origin, and my first dialect is Bedouin, so I have become a newcomer to the Cairo dialect, and the Egyptian colloquial dialect.
My use of slang in my novels, whose aim is to express a language similar to the language of “kalam,” I mean in the ease and ease of speech and its ability to persuade, I feel very happy when they say to me “we used to hear you while we read to you.”
In the novel “The Rise and Fall of Al-Shin,” I completely dared to use the vernacular, this method exhausted many, especially since I added “words” that are not just “Bedouin only” but very special words for each “homestead” and each “village” of the Bedouin community, and therefore it was Humphrey Davies, who translated it, was the only one who could translate it because he had a good depth of Egyptian colloquial Arabic.
> How did you manage in your active novel to keep the reader’s passion from the beginning to the end… Is the reason the way of narration or writing about a real experience?
– I don’t know exactly, but in “The Actor” when I started writing it, I wanted to write it in a traditional way like the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, and this cost me a long time to submit to this random world of the organized world like Naguib Mahfouz, but I failed in the end and decided to make it what I want, My great teacher, Khairy Shalaby, told me the best opinion of the actor’s novel. He told me a text, “You are a fool. You had a jewel and I lost it.” Indeed, I see that the professor is right.
> We find in the novel of retired thieves, and the rest of your works deliberately employ irony, do you mean that?
Irony in literature does not mean that I attack someone with criticism, but irony in literature is an appropriate way to understand human contradictions without bias, irony is not with good or evil, but it reveals the paradox between them.
I do not intend to sarcasm, but I love irony, and it is not always available even to me, I mean the sarcastic angle, receiving life from the laughing angle is available but unattainable at the same time. He reads it.. Maybe many times I spend a lot of time writing in search of this ironic tone appropriate to start writing.
> How can literature touch unfamiliar worlds to the reader and introduce him to them as your constant expression of the world of the desert and the social transformations that have taken place on the “Bedouins”? What is the role of literature in preserving the non-preserved oral heritage?
– This “they” possessed me recently with the narration of the rise and collapse of Al-Shin in particular. I wanted to preserve Bedouin poetry from extinction, because it is a “heritage.” The Bedouin dialect has become extinct a large number of those who speak it largely, especially in northern Upper Egypt, the last generation was keen to use it permanently It is my mother’s generation, for example. I often do not use it, and so are the generations that came after me. I actually intended to document the Bedouin language and Bedouin poetry in my novels for fear of extinction.
I would classify myself as a “semi-nihilistic” writer, but I felt a great responsibility that I had to obey the great heritage of the Bedouin language what could be used in the novel, and even in my use of Bedouin poetry I try to put it in a way that does not affect the general understanding of the entire context.
> In my stone hands.. I expressed a narrative duality that brought together the West and the East. In your opinion, what are the most prominent contradictions between the two worlds? Are there common meeting spaces?
I was not concerned about the contradiction between East and West, nor did I put the two characters against each other. Saleh, with this view of the West, his position and his view were “somewhat miserable.”
While writing “My Stone Hand” I was busy presenting myself and my partners in the experience, not the representatives of the Egyptian and Western culture, for the human being in himself is no different from any human being anywhere, and this is what concerns me and actually preoccupies me with writing about “the person himself in general.”
The Egyptian novel, in its large and bright beginning, began with man. Tawfiq al-Hakim wrote about himself as a deputy in the countryside in his novel “The Diary of a Representative in the Countryside,” and Taha Hussein wrote about himself in all his works, and the Egyptian writer was among the greatest writers in the world, the novels of Tawfiq al-Hakim It was translated as soon as it was printed, but as soon as it was written, and Taha Hussein was competing with Sartre and Camus for the Nobel Prize.
Then Naguib Mahfouz came with his special composition, his usual caution, and his consideration of his private life as a holy of holies, and of course with his great sincerity and his huge diverse production – and the transfer of the Egyptian novel from man to cause, from man as an end to the novel in itself to a means to prove a case, idea, opinion or stage, and this is what it followed The Egyptian novel to this day.
> Is the novel My Stone Hand considered an autobiography?
I often imagine that I want to become a camera that transmits all events when writing, to convey reality in all its details, but that will not happen, because imagination imposes itself strongly when writing, drawing characters and narrating events, but I hope that I do not resort to it and be able to convey reality in its entirety.
At the present time, the novelist has no choice but himself. All kinds of novels have been presented, whether historical or science fiction. The writer can present himself, but this requires practice and training to be able to reach the soul correctly.
> What happened to the great praises addressed to you by a group of symbols of literature in Egypt?
I gain from my teachers “faith.” I saw in their eyes their strong belief that I would become a great writer, if I had believed in myself and believed the words of Khairy Shalaby, perhaps I would have worked much more diligently than now.
> To what extent can the writer’s suffering and challenges contribute to enriching his texts and burdening them with life experiences?
I always repeat that a person who grew up in an environment in which everything is available has the choice and luxury to write a novel or not. As for the person who grew up in a poor environment and faced tragedy and suffering, his destiny to write is indeed closer to the novel. The writer must have a crisis Real and with a degree of feeling and feeling for everything around him, whoever has suffering is closer to writing fiction, because he has experienced more and heavier experiences.
> What role does the cultural community or the intellectual community play in giving importance to the work of a writer or not?
There is, of course, injustice in what I call “procedures” about literature in general, an injustice sometimes represented in awards, conferences, translations, or restricting the writer himself, but I believe that a good work will inevitably impose itself, the only factor here is “reading,” so the writer’s weight And the content that his presence presents among readers imposes themselves strongly, and “awards and critical studies” do not affect them.
> You said previously, “We write for a society that does not read.” Why?
– Let us admit that reading circles have now expanded, exceeding reading rates during the generation of my adult teachers, Khairy Shalaby, Ibrahim Aslan and Muhammad Mustagab. The Internet did not affect reading negatively, but it did contribute to the increase in reading rates. Of course, the reading rates are increasing due to the technical features that the novel has now: ease of language, irony, change of the writer’s position instead of relying on the “conscience writer”, the writer’s interest now does not exceed his personal needs!
> What does the press represent to you?
I joined the press as an Egyptian employee who lives in a period when additional work is required for the job so that he can live, and journalism was the closest job to the writer. Although I have produced in the press – my writings in the Emirati newspaper Al-Ittihad are three books that are the most widely distributed among my works.
> Can you tell us about your upcoming work?
I am working on a novel that revolves around the story and is based mainly on “My Mother’s Ghetto”.