Riyadh Newspaper | Jaber Madkhali: I aspire to document a “visit to a library” in a book

A visit to a library

Jaber Madkhali: I aspire to document a “visit to a library” in a book

The burning of my scripts killed my work

Libraries with their owners have stories and situations, as well as anecdotes and sorrows that deserve to be told. “Al-Riyadh” visits the libraries of a group of intellectuals, evokes the memory of beginnings, and follows the passion for collecting the most valuable possessions, and the stages of building libraries.. In this written dialogue we host the novelist and journalist A. Jaber Muhammad Madkhali, whose library contains many books; The novels are endless, the collections are endless, and the books have varied types and titles with their intellectual, religious, social, human, historical, and literary differences in various branches.

  • At what stage did you come to know the book?

  • If I remember well, it will be precisely the day that the Islamic education teacher in the fifth grade gave me a large book of “Stories of the Prophets” so that I could achieve a full degree in its subject. After him, that chain began to wrap around my wrist until it tightened its bond towards my eagerness for every new book to come.. Later on, my older brother “Ali” and I was in the sixth grade intervened by bringing him many books to put some of them between us before bed, not caring about the beginning of the madness of that child brother who was growing up in internal. Only al-Manfaluti was among us at that time, who was older than my age on that day, and he was able, with its first pages, to refine my affection for the harm that I encountered to the prophets of God from the harm of their people in the previous great book.

  • Do you remember the beginnings of establishing your home library?

  • When I was young, there was one shelf in our house on which we put all our school curricula at the end of each year, and every time I moved to a new class, I was free to read the year that I lifted from this shelf. That shelf remained an extension and attachment to my young mind and a motivation to turn it into a library.. I did not imagine that government curricula composed of foundations and knowledge according to school standards would establish in me that great desire that later became urgent calls.

  • What about book fairs, and their role in enriching your library?

  • In the first year of my study at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, a book fair was held in Jeddah, and it was the first exhibition I attended in my life. I was going with the intention of seeing the books and what they look like when they are out of the press? I was wondering how all these people could flock to buy it – even the books of the dead – I found it at that exhibition and afterwards. On the last day of it, I bought my first books, and I used to read avidly through the university library since the first week I entered it, and through cultural magazines that I have been reading since high school.. Those first books I bought are still warm in my memory until this moment.

  • What are the most prominent turning points and circumstances that accompanied the growth of your personal library?

  • I remember, after finishing my university studies, that I found that my bags of books and diaries were more than my bags of clothes. I had to take it back to our home in Jizan. Most of them were books I copied from the books of the Umm Al-Qura University library, except for the novels I had been buying from the university library, which the university library did not provide according to the standard of my aspirations and wishes. And after a year of building the shelves, and replacing the first curriculum shelf in our house, which grew with my great imagination and my dream, and specifically after only one year, that room that we called a library burned with all its books, volumes, drafts of writing experiments, novels I had not finished writing, and poems that did not confirm my poetry Paper wishes tucked away, pictures of age. And curricula and books that I commented on, and I achieved some of them and corrected a lot in them according to my vision.. Only a year later, it was completely burnt, so it burned my hope. I returned to my first square, empty of my books and writings, and devoid of the memory of my illustrated life.

I remember that day, after the civil defense sounded and his squad left, I sat watching the wet leaves and the smell of fire. And this painful condition was written later in a text I called “The Lament of Inanimate objects.”

  • Tell us about the first books that entered your library?

    • I remember from them: Stories of the Prophets, The Sealed Nectar, Al-Manfaluti, Abdullah Al-Jafri, Abdullah Bakhshwain, Al-Attar, Elia Abu Madi, Nizar Qabbani, Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab, poetry collections and collections of most Arab poets, the jewels of literature, the extremist in every art, and many do not come to me now. .
  • Do you keep manuscripts in your library?

  • Manuscripts in her real name no. But I had my own manuscripts…the ones that were devoured by the fire. It was my own, with experimental works, if it were to survive to this day, it would have given me a lot, and saved me some years of trouble in re-recalling, and begging my memory to provide me with what I thought for years of my mind devoid of anything but reading and writing. And with it, there were no scripts in my father’s handwriting in his educational beginnings. With the passage of years, I regained my certainty of what I had to recall, and I kept all my manuscripts in my own handwriting or every text I finished and printed with everything in it by enumerating copies of its drafts with their modifications, their zigzag handwriting, and the details of their first birth.

  • What about the share of old and rare books?

    • If the intent of the question is about heritage books, they are my favorite ones, because in my second phase of rebuilding my library, I relied on tracing the old libraries, traveling to them, and acquiring many of them. And I remember a beautiful advice from my novelist friend Taher Al-Zahrani: “You should read heritage books because you will see what no one else will see.
  • Do you have any of the old newspapers and magazines?

  • I had a lot, and I had very little of what I cut from magazines and collected in a file, including what belonged to me as my first published attempts, which I made sure to collect, and some of them are what I like by writers, writers, poets and critics. And when I joined the press recently, I was unable to collect paper because papers suffered with me from the possibility of confrontation, so electronic memorization became closer and more reliable to me than anything else.

  • Do you have books signed by their authors in your library?

    • Many, loyal, motivating, and immortal in me. And when I go back to it every time, I find myself drawn to reading it by the smell of soft ink, whose positions I remember, and the looks of its author as he guides it with love and friendship, so I read it again as if I had never read it before. It affects me a lot when the calligraphy remains with me and my closeness and its writer is buried underground, or above it is missing in distance and circumstances.
  • What was the funniest thing that happened to you while searching for books?

  • This happened to me on the day a novel by one of my dear writers was published. I attended his signature stand – with that exhibition – and I had acquired his novel for him to sign for me and then I took it to him.. When he saw it in my hands, he refused to sign the one I had bought and pulled a copy in front of him, signed it and gifted it with a smile, then handed it to me. And with the crowds surrounding him, he was absent from me and I was absent from him, but the owner of the house sent a worker to follow me until I went out to him and said to me: Calculate the signed copy, please. I did not find myself except that I extended my hand to him with the copy that I had acquired, which the dear author refused to sign for me, a second copy, free of charge, as a gift from him.

  • What are the most prominent books that you are keen to read since you are interested in books?

    • In the beginning, I took care of the tastes of my brother and then my sister. When I faced reading in high school and university, I acquired novels satisfactorily as if they were medicine. The story collections are amazing. and poetry collections frequently. I was finishing a novel to read a story, followed by a diwan. With the passage of time, I found that I was confused by the creative affiliation of any literary genre. I decided that day, if I finished reading everything I had, to specialize in reading novels and everything written about them, whether criticism, studies or analysis, and I implemented my decision for many years. Today, I read a lot of science and literature without classification, or identification.
  • Did your own library help you to write?

  • My current private library came as a result of a diverse reading experience, free of affiliations, classification, or selectivity, followed by the stage of specialization. Then general reading, and this was a mixture and mixture for me that contributed to making me secure with references and books that enrich me whenever I need to go back to a specific author to know his style, or a book in which I am sure of information, or a source that I rely on in a historical event, or mental maps when writing a major that I intend to write.

  • How many books have you written so far? When was your first book published? what is?

  • Two novels have been published for me: “Famine” 2013, “Proof of Virginity” 2017, and a third novel will be published in the coming days.

  • What do you prefer a paper or digital library? And what’s the reason?

  • Definitely paper. Paper has the smell of life, even if its authors died. Paper books we can take shelter in and cover our faces with when a writer hurts us with the events of his hero, or a story with its entire events. As for the electronic one, it can hardly protect itself, so how can it protect others!

  • What is reading from your point of view?

  • It is the open seclusion, and the river from which you wash your mind, removing the dirt of ignorance, old age, and premature aging. They are the great windows to the worlds you cannot travel to. It is the cloud that showers you with a writer from one country, events from another country, and personalities from countries who wish for a moment that you were among them, or had a short time with them to see how they wrote what makes you wish these wishes with each new reading.

  • What is your message to everyone who owns his own library?

  • Do not make your only concern with acquisition, but rather make it with reading; Because in every book you finish, you will have to plant another book in its place; It will make you more knowledgeable than others of what you have and familiar with the world how it develops, moves, turns, and renews.

  • last word?

  • The last sentence is the most difficult to say, especially when it relates to an inspiring and great topic in our lives, such as the book and its home. This house that raises you high whenever you take refuge in it, and provides you with light no matter how dark you are. And if it is a frank talk and history, it is for the prestigious “Al-Riyadh” newspaper, especially its cultural page, which stands behind the renewed Professor Abdullah Al-Hasani, who is adapted to the cultural scenes, and who I trust in his personality as he moves from convictions that are valid for every cultural time, and is contemporary, and newspapers and cultural pages – in particular. – Whenever she found this contemporary behind her, she was able to survive all the challenges she faced. Then a whisper to Professor Bakr Hazal, who is responsible for this great documentary project, which has become one of my ambitions to see it one day. He produced this national library documentation for us in his own book; It is an institutional effort carried out by a brilliant cultural page, and a personal belonging to the cultural scene with its sweet poetry.

the library

Manuscripts affected by the fire