Emirati Ipaf nominee Sultan Al Ameemi talks about his love of words

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By Rym Ghazal

‘In a small room in an unknown place, there is someone peeping through a keyhole, watching furtively the other person in an adjacent room…”

This is how the Arabic language novel Ghurfa Waheda La Takfi (One Room is Not Enough) begins, by the Emirati writer and researcher Sultan Al Ameemi. It has been nominated for the 10th edition of the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Ipaf), with 15 competing novels from nine other countries.

Ghurfa Waheda La Takfi is an unusual novel, full of mystery, suspense and a philosophical narrative. It is also written in simple, engaging Arabic, peppered with a creative play on words – reflective of the author’s poetic background.

His novel provokes an engaged curiosity from the outset: who is the person trapped in a room watching someone else; a doppelgänger in yet another room. And who is really telling the story with its multiple narrators?

Al Ameemi, 43, is a poet and writer, as well as a researcher of local dialects, and the director of the Poetry Academy in Abu Dhabi. He has written 20 books, mostly on UAE poetry and poets, as well as three collections of short stories and a novel P.O. Box 1003 (2014). Al Ameemi is also a judge on the Abu Dhabi TV and Million’s Poet Channel Million’s Poet show.

Tell us about Ghurfa Waheda La Takfi (One Room is Not Enough), the first Emirati novel longlisted for the 10th edition of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction? Why did you write it?

I have been thinking about this concept of “talasus”, peeking or peeping into other people’s lives, for a long time. Our life revolves around talking about others, watching others and checking out people’s lives, through social media and gossip. We are curious and check people’s accounts to see what they have been up to and what did we miss out on. It is almost like an obsession, and so I started writing the book with this premise. Read more
Source: The National
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