“We no longer fight girls, but we fight against their dreams” … A dialogue with the novelist and storyteller Rabab Kassab

The novelist and storyteller Rabab Kassab, who has a doctorate in agricultural sciences, lives on the edge of two cities, a small town and the capital. She writes to know herself and the world, and she tries to liberate herself by writing, acknowledging her truth: “I am not a farmer to the core, nor a daughter of the big city, I walk on the edge, but I really love the big city.

“Cairo has attracted me for a long time, and I do not feel the alienation I feel in my small town, which I used to feel made me think and keep me away from.” She has published several novels, including: “A Cage His Name is Me”, “Narrated”, “The Three Seasons”, “The Dress of Joy”. And a single collection of short stories titled “White Ivory and Black Ebony”, and finally her novel “On a Thankful Mountain”, we met her, and this dialogue was:

Rabab Kassab

In your recently published new novel, “On a Grateful Mountain,” you write about “Bait al-Kiritliya.” Is it a place novel, or is it about old love and worship, and the idea of ​​mysticism and disappearance in the other?

You may consider it a place novel, and you may find love in it, but I consider it about escape. I ran away from reality for what I love and desire. All heroes run away. “Raghia” escapes from the failure of hope and the faltering love, “Raqiya” escapes from the death of a boy and the loss of a husband, “Naji” chooses the distance and all his hopes have fallen, the myths that weave is to the house of the Kritliyya played a role in making it look like an unrealistic fantasy, the imagination here was necessary to overcome all The sad reality.

What are the events and facts that made you start writing this novel?

There is nothing more than my love for the place since I first visited it in 2005, and on that day I stood and wanted to write a novel in this place, not about it. I reflected an inner desire in me in which I wanted to live.

The years passed, and every time I visited the place, the desire was renewed and the love for it increased, until I moved my home to Cairo in 2014, when I lived in the “Sayeda Zeinab” neighborhood, and the house on me far back from work daily, so the visits were repeated, and I started in an outburst that did not subside until I started writing I was looking for the house, and I was fascinated by the book “Legends of the House of Al-Kiritliya ”, which I had obtained with difficulty. and could buy the book, and this book has a great advantage over my work.In addition to the great lecture on the Ahmed Ibn Tulun Mosque, which dates from 1917.

Rabab Kassab: Not I’m a farmer to the core or the daughter of the big city, I walk on the edge, but I really love the big city, Cairo attracted me a long time ago, I do not feel alienated

Why do not you like to talk about your first novel, “A Cage His Name Is Me”, and what is the reason for your anger about it?

I’m really mad at her, but I do not like her? Not at all. You know, while reading your question, I discovered that “a cage called me” is now twenty years old, and it was not the first novel. It was preceded by an unpublished novel, and I did not think of publishing it. I wrote “A Cage Named Me” two years after graduating from college, and I rewrote it a few times despite its large size, and changed it twice. And he painted the street inhabited by the heroes, and even more, I caught myself at times behaving like her heroine. Getting rid of the character of “Safaa” was not easy, and it is the novel for which I received great praise and interaction from readers, which confused me, made me happy and scared.

I published it five years after I finished it, and because I was not satisfied, I looked at it for several years to find that it contained all the flaws of the first work, lack of experience, gossip. Before “A Cage Named Me” and until the publication of “Sardo” I had no teacher, I did not have a circle of friends interested in literature, and I had nothing to do with literary seminars and what is said about them not. Anyone with previous writing experience, or even a professional reader, did not read it before publication, so I published it and I carried the burden alone.It was my biggest adventure that I did not regret despite the anger, and I think it’s a commendable rage, we always strive for the best, and really I’m not satisfied.

Do the man’s writings about the woman and his acceptance of her issues give her justice?

Writing is a sincere act that can reach you and feel the sincerity of its owner. The moment of writing is the moment of uniting with the word and the idea and setting everything aside, the moment of forgetting the ego and the interest and so on. . No one writes for the review, or to show the owner of an idea and a case without being discovered by the reader, so whoever wrote about women wrote because he felt really wronged, but the details what comes out of women’s writing about women is what gives them greater power and privacy.

Do creative women have issues that pertain to them alone, and what are the issues and issues of creative women from your point of view?

The creative woman is usually pushed out into the society of non-creators and creators, and is sometimes seen as a crazy individual, because she is not within the rules of society, and does not follow her pattern and approach. I remember feeling ambivalence in the past and still being in the society of my mother and workplace, and the creativity of women is still considered flawed just because she is a woman. The most important issue of creative and non-creative women is freedom.

It is not just freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of movement, freedom of life in general. To get rid of the inferior view of women’s literature and to link daring topics to their partner as a stigma, while the man is not stigmatized for his boldness or the boldness of his characters, to stop the superiority of any stigmatizing someone because she’s only wearing a dress, without considering the level of her creativity. Creative women’s issues are inseparable from women’s issues in all Arab societies.

We no longer condemn girls, but we defy their life dreams. We are still talking about the right to work, education, circumcision, freedom of clothing and marriage. We are still fighting over inheritance and guardianship of children. I do not imagine that we are now going backwards with unfair laws, women are losing their profits, forcing us to go back to zero again. The creative woman is the mouthpiece of other non-creative women, she suffers the same suffering as she is stigmatized because she is a woman.

Recently, the term feminist literary, and also feminist critique, appeared Do you agree with this term and this literary distinction, and why?

I have often expressed my rejection of these labels.Literature is a human act, regardless of the gender of its author.

Rabab Kassab: In My WritingsExpress the man, and if my most important man is the woman … evil or good, strong or oppressive, ambitious or ordinary, her freedom occupies me and will remain, it is my project if I may call it

You have written a single collection of short stories entitled “Ivory White and Ebony Black” How do you see the future of the short story, and what does the short story mean to you?

Despite my love for the novel, I see that the story will remain, and in this breathless era it is the perfect fit for him, and it is the most sincere expression of the present reality, and I have with my hand very young talents touched upon who will have a great future in the world of the short story. The story is for me a case in which I express an event that has a big impact on me, so it’s close to me, you can find me in it, and I can not let it go even if I try, while the novel the world I create and fall under its power.

How do you evaluate the literary presence of women in the Arab narratives and fiction scene?

There are striking and powerful names, especially in the world of the novel, but we need more than that. I’m not lying to you, as I’m not familiar with the whole Arab scene, because of my love of discovering the world outside the Arab domain, and this is one of the problems of women … The ability to travel and move, I discover the world to write me through the book The West, the Far East, Latin America and currently Africa, I feel like I am in a constant race to know about them and them.

How has your education influenced the formation of your creative consciousness, and what does the small town / capital divide represent for your creativity?

It started with some old books my dad had, the newspaper he held in his hand, the magazines my mom bought for me, the crossword puzzles my dad taught me, and my desire to imitate , then the booklets with stories I got. with my colleagues and addict, and I did not feel satisfied, but the city was not There were libraries, and there were no people around me who read, so I read again what I read, and there was no internet or e-books. as now, until the Family Library project is released.

So my mother buys me everything she gets, and I read with passion for the needy, and the more I read, the more I am able to express, everything that goes through me I express in writing. No one knew that this non-specialized study kept my mind on fire and kept me more busy with it, and I was right, after completing it, a strange period of lethargy began and I stopped writing for periods.

Unfortunately, I have the duality of the small town and the capital. I did not live in a village, so it got far. I look at it from afar and hear about it. I feel like I’m always walking in between, so I’m dedicating my collection to “in between”, and the question is, are we going to succeed? Not I’m a farmer to the core or the daughter of the big city, I walk on the edge, but I really love the big city, Cairo has attracted me for a long time, I do not feel the alienation I am in do not feel me. small town, which I used to feel it always keeps me away from.

Every writer has a literary intellectual project that he articulates Tell us about your literary project?

I do not like the word project, man is not a project, and I express man, even though my most important person is a woman … evil or good, strong or oppressive, ambitious or ordinary, her freedom occupies me and want to stay, this is my project if the name is permissible.

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