Maysoon Saqr: “Zayed for the Book” .. the dream of all intellectuals

Cairo: Medhat Safwat
As soon as Emirati writer and artist Maysoon Saqr announced that she had won the Sheikh Zayed Book Prize for her book “Café Feathers .. Eye on Egypt”, congratulations were launched from the Arab world, especially Egyptian writers and intellectuals, a case that may indicate the extent of mutual love between Egyptians and the daughter of Sharjah. And when I first contacted her to congratulate her, her voice sounded like a child who had passed an educational stage with distinction, sincere joy not only with the award, but with the love for people who overwhelmed her, communication and messages, until I felt her voice was tense, and with ordinary generosity, Maysoon continued the dialogue and interaction for more than an hour and a half, talking about various issues related to writing, identity, and modernity.

How did you receive your award?

Of course, a major award bearing the name of an authentic Arab personality, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul. The award organizers in Abu Dhabi have always worked to develop and neutralize it until it ‘. has become a dream for all intellectuals because they realize the value of the name it bears.Whoever wins it is referred to as admiration, and we do not find rejection of it, or disagreement about it, on the contrary, there is consensus on who the award is. get, which did not benefit the Emirates or the Gulf, and the evidence is that I am the first Emirati writer to win it after several sessions.

To whom do you give the prize?

I dedicate it to our literary and artistic history, to all the writers of the Emirates, and all my friends who were my back, my family and my family, in Egypt, the Emirates or the Arab world, and if it were not for not my presence among them, I would have lost the way. Finally, I dedicate it to the proud homeland of the Emirates, to Sharjah the first memory, and to my beloved Egypt, the mother of the world.

* We go to your writing, the place saturated with memories is a central element in it, and we mark it in “In my mouth is a pearl” and “Cafe of feathers”, I feel here that the poet is afraid that her memory will be erased, will not it?

A person is inseparable from what he lived and where he lived. Writing is the origin of the place and is present in it, especially narrative or biographical writing. You have, for example, the novel that looks at the event and time, and they are the naughty of the soul. In Cairo.


And what was the place like in «Cafe Riches»?

For the Egyptians the place is stable and stable, and the idea is pervasive, because of the Nile River, not only in housing and lodging, but even the Egyptian tombs are stable, which you find “houses” and contain a corner to to receive visitors. On the contrary, with fishermen, for example, there is always a movement and movement, which makes writing about Cairo a special place for the place, because as soon as I write about Cairo, history comes.

Does this explain the secret of Mason’s constant concern about memory?

I always live this anxiety, and I know that place and memory change with time, and then I grab onto literature, whether in poetry, novel or biographical writing.And then we work to create awareness based on passion and discovery.

In “In My Mouth is a Pearl” the sea was generous with pearls … How was Cairo in the book’s ten year long journey?

Very generously she opened her doors lovingly to me, and I had a love affair with her, which confirms, that I rarely left Cairo, I go quickly to Alexandria, and I have only stayed there once, and I have just went to most areas. as a quick guest I do not leave Cairo After she opened her door to me with love and celebration.

Multiple layers

In your book on Cairo, there is a complex history of interculturality, so what did it look like so simple?

Cairo is not one layer, but several layers. It goes through the gate of history to find layers, and you can not master it through your life, and it takes centuries to find an entrance to it, like someone standing in the rain and it rains on him shy.The history of Cairo shy, after getting some documents in Cafe Riche, I wanted to classify and mechanize it, and I got it for archiving as a loving work for the owner of the cafe, and I did not not arranged. to write, to discover a treasure, a small cafe that contains a part of the history of Egypt. At that time I was standing small, where did I get all this momentum from, it’s like standing in front of the pyramid, how few people live the experience.

Cafe Riche represented a starting point to enter the areas of urban and socio-cultural history of Khedive Cairo, one of the aspects of the “Egypt is a piece of Europe” project.

I did not have a project for a piece of Europe in my mind, on the contrary, I do not agree with the idea, and I proceeded from the idea of ​​renaissance and independence of the promotion of the Arab individual, and to out to come from the mantle of colonialism, and interest in the building of man, and the existence of the Egyptian as a human entity.

My interest was focused on the modernization of architecture and architecture, not as an independent goal, but because of its impact on the person and the Egyptian presence.When I chose the Riche Café, I tried to find the real and the authentic to depict, and I did. did not choose the Groppi Café because the latter was without the local Egyptian element, and maybe I was trying to set an Egyptian intelligentsia class against the class. It is not Egyptian, as if I am conquering for this tendency Almasirah, and I consider it silent about it in the book.

In your book you have combined history supported by documents and oral narratives … with a clear attention to detail, forgotten history … and marginalized narratives .. To what extent did you trust the written and oral historical narratives?

At first I was not interested in oral narration. I have flipped through more than one novel, especially since I am dealing with a part of history that is near and known and not far away. The narratives are multiple and available and not rare, and they support any researcher in the field of cultural history, which is why I put the oral narrative in brackets, especially since it is “Spoken”.


“Cafe of Feathers” is not just ordinary writing, but rather artistic and poetic paintings that represent the image of a “multiple identities” Cairo. How can we bring back to us this Cairo that seems lost in the eyes of many?

I imagine that the concept of modernity includes some cruelty, and it has two sides, one bad and the other positive. The most important thing we lose in modernity is the separation of our previous souls, and then we try in writing to to preserve the memory, for our experience is inevitable, whether we like it or not, and the world will change, and my task is to record the soul in its moment, and we must preserve ourselves, and know that we have a “jewel” has, a forgotten history, and priceless details.

poetic language

Mason’s written work is not without poetic language. She attended “In my mouth is a pearl” and appeared haunted in “Cafe Riches”, she says of that language:

Of course, in the beginning I am a poet, so every time I try to write any other material, even if I draw a painting, the idea of ​​poetry is solved, but with Siri writing I was confused between the ” dry “language” so I was afraid I would lapse into history, and among the poetic language that would drop the work in Romance, the solution was in a middle language, as you described it as “ghost,” every book in its language, in reaching the average reader, and licking your messages without being direct.

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