The writers series is a project borne out of a desire to shed light on a particular generation of young Egyptian authors. It also presents an opportunity to mix mediums, where the written word becomes auditory, as well as visual.
A selection of authors were asked to pick an excerpt to be recorded and produced in collaboration with Dandin. The result is an eclectic collection of stories that examine themes of discovery, soul-searching and living with loss.
Throughout the series, which will comprise a staggered release of four separate works, distinct narratives are woven through the protagonists’ journey as they trek through vivd landscapes or within the confines of the mind. Or in one case, as they hurtle headlong towards lascivious desire.
The Hero’s Journey:
The writers series begins with the first section of the short story ‘The Tale of the Dragon and the Elephant‘, written by the late Mahmoud Farag (1982 – 2012). It was originally published in Akhbar Al Adab around the time of the author’s death and is narrated here by novelist Ahmed Naji.
The titular dragon, beset with loneliness and seeking a partner to share its lot, embarks on a journey in search of its destiny. A destiny, it is told, that will be found under a white-leafed tree in a faraway land.
Sherif Abdel-Samad reads a segment from his second publication, the novel ‘Night Thirst‘, that is a story within a story. It is a classic Sufi-inspired tale of a traveller trekking the desert, where he comes across an elderly man accompanying a young boy whose mouth happens to be bound shut. Upon enquiring as to why, the traveller eventually bears witness to a beauty too wondrous and terrifying for the world to fathom.
Eman Abdel-Rahim, author of ‘Al-Hujrat and other stories‘ published in 2013, presents a new unpublished text titled ‘Disturbed’, narrated by journalist Sarah El Sirgany. It is an introspective look at grief and how it may affect the workings of the mind, driving one to despair. It posits that there are two types of death, the first of the physical form and a latter metaphysical death which may lead to madness.
The series concludes with ‘Porno’, a short story from the anthology ‘Blue‘ by Mahmoud Tawfik. A story of a down-on-his-luck ne’er do well who believes he’s chanced upon an opportunity of a lifetime. The protagonist is noticed by the neighbourhood strongman due to his unexpectedly sonorous voice, which is at odds with his less lustrous physical appearance. Because of this, an opportunity arises that appears to be the panacea for his ails.
Writers and Voices:
Taken together, these stories bring forward a wide swathe of narrative voices, which lent a more diverse scope to the audio translation. Across these stories, the narrators use classical and colloquial voices in both the third and first person.
Omniscient third person narration lent the relevant stories a more sweeping free-flowing form while first person narrative offered a more reflective tone, possibly more constricted, but with greater opportunity for inner thoughts to come to the fore.
In collaborating with the writers for this series, the aim for its audio production was to accentuate the dramatic narrative without overpowering the story or its voice. Additionally, a series of designs inspired by the source material was created by Castell Lanko.
The writers series will be released piecemeal over the course of the month. You can follow it here.