The book included a thorough study of Karnah’s 10 novels that qualified him to win the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature
The literary and cultural scene in Iraq witnessed the publication of the first Arab critical study of the works of the novelist Abdul Razzaq Qarnah, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021, as part of the “Project 100” series, sponsored by the Iraqi Translators Association and in cooperation with the Abjad Foundation for Translation and Publishing.
The book includes a thorough study of the 10 novels of Garnah, which qualified him to win the Nobel Prize in 2021, and the author of the study, Dr. Qassem Al-Asadi, head of the Translators’ Association, was keen that his book includes an in-depth critique of the characters of Garnah in those novels.
Al-Asadi says that the selection of Abdul Razzaq Garnah of Yemeni Arab origin in the 100 Books Project series came against the backdrop of his winning the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, as we had previously published a book on American Louise Glick, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020.
He adds to Al Jazeera Net that the importance of studying the novels of Abdel Razzaq Garnah, as he is one of the writers who specialized in colonial and post-colonial literature, and the importance of Garnah for the Arab library in general and the Iraqi library in particular comes from the fact that he deals with basic, sensitive and important topics for the Arab and Iraqi people, such as the issue of displacement, migration and the diaspora that he suffered The Arab community and the Iraqi people, especially against the backdrop of wars, economic siege, aggression and the American occupation, which ended with the destruction of the entire infrastructure of Iraq, as well as the displacement and migration of millions of its residents.
Al-Asadi points out that, within two decades, Garnah produced 10 novels that enabled him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature 2021, and these novels are, Memory of Departure, Pilgrims’ Road, Dotti, Heaven, Admiration for Silence, By the Sea, Abandonment, The Last Gift, Before Pebbles, and Life After the death.
Al-Asadi believes that the titles of Garnah’s novels may reflect that the dominant theme in his works is displacement and migration, but in depth his works speak of personalities and individuals whose lives are not only controlled by the legacy of colonialism, but are also controlled by factors of power and family relationships that have a profound impact on building an individual’s personality.
He points out that all Qarnah characters bear Arabic names (Youssef, Khalil, Aziz, Fatima, Qassem, Daoud, Jamal and Abbas) and other names, which indicate the man’s pride in his identity and his focus on the pain and reality of his society.
Al-Asadi asserts that every modern product plays a role in supplying the Arab and Iraqi library with important studies that would help researchers and scholars in their studies and put them in direct contact with the most important literary developments taking place in the West, adding: “For these reasons, I personally adopted the 100-book project with my colleagues in the commission. The administration of the Iraqi Translators Association, with simple capabilities and a belief in the importance of keeping pace with intellectual and literary development in the world.”
Professor of Literature and Criticism, Dr. Saad Muhammad Ali Al-Tamimi, believes that Iraq’s sole publication of the first Arab study on the novelistic achievement of Abdul Razzaq Garnah confirms that the cultural and creative movement that is strongly present in the Iraqi arena through various institutions, including the Translators Association.
He shows to Al Jazeera Net that this cultural presence confirms the desire to communicate and interact with world literature, as well as the speed of interaction with the Tanzanian writer Qarnah of Arab origin, who expresses in his novels the concerns of man in the third world, and his existential anxiety.
Al-Tamimi notes that Al-Asadi focused in his studies on the characters that Garnah chose in his novels that include all family members, as he was interested in the family relations that bind them on the one hand and with their surroundings on the other hand, and the extent to which this affects the building of the personality of the individual, and he did not neglect the impact of colonialism. In some of his novels, he tried to address displacement and immigration, and presented characters who give a unique vision of the homeland in new places that do not belong to it, and the accompanying confusion of identity that the writer lived through.
Al-Tamimi praises these studies, which contribute to introducing writers who, before winning the Nobel Prize, may have been unknown to many readers. In addition, the conditions in which the writer lived and expressed in his novels are now experienced by many Arab immigrant writers.
100 book project
The “100 Books” project is among the most important projects adopted by the Iraqi Translators Association, through which it seeks to provide the Iraqi and Arabic library with the most important publications in the world of translation, thought, philosophy, literature, art, poetry, theater and other literatures and arts, according to Al-Asadi.
He shows that the number of books published by the association is about 45 books on various literary topics, the most important of which is the Encyclopedia of Russian Writers by Dr. Qassem al-Asadi, which is in 3 parts and sheds light on Russian literature for a period of time spanning 6 centuries and includes 112 writers of the most important Russian writers.
The Iraqi Translators Association is one of the reputable scientific societies that was established in 1970 and is concerned with the promotion and development of the reality of translation in Iraq and the Arab world by holding training and development courses in translation and languages for specialists and non-specialists as well as spreading knowledge and thought and Iraqi heritage and translating it into living foreign languages.
lack of support
Speaking about the institution, its goals and cultural concerns at the level of Iraq, Hussein Nahba, director of the Abjad Foundation for Translation and Publishing, says that the Foundation is concerned with culture and education, and it also holds several festivals and free training courses for interpreters.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, he confirms the end of his institution’s cooperation with the Iraqi Translators Association in printing and publishing, because translations are of great interest.
He points out that Garnah is one of the globally known personalities and has a unique vision in his novels, where he showed what colonialism does, as well as the role of childhood in it, so it is necessary to introduce readers to him, and this is one of the most important roles of the Abjad Foundation, which is the transfer of cultures.
Nahiba talks about the “100 Project” taken by the Translators Association as one of the outlets for incubating and developing translators, indicating that the project consists of printing 100 books for free for writers and translators affiliated with the Association, and it is a development project to open a new outlet for translation in Iraq.
Nahba stressed that their association is independent and all its resources are private, and used to serve culture through translation, without the interference of government agencies, pointing to the translators’ suffering in obtaining property rights and other rights, due to the absence of supporting institutions, as his institution produced about 730 translated books and did not receive any to support.