This post is also available in: العربية

Renowned Kuwaiti novelist Ahmad Al-Rifai underscored the importance of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) as one of the most influential cultural platforms in the Arab world and its role in promoting cross-cultural communication and dialogue between prominent Arab and international authors.

This came during a session held virtually via the ‘Sharjah Reads’ platform on the opening day of the 39th edition of SIBF, on Tuesday. The session was moderated by Iman bin Sheiba.

Al-Rifai spoke about his latest novel Homeland of my Life, which narrates the story of a young man who sells food cooked by his mother for a living. “It is my most evolved work yet, and builds on the experience I gained from working on my three previous novels, Tired from Yearning, Your Eyes Are My Last Hope, and They Revealed the Love Secret,” he said.

The Kuwaiti novelist, who began writing in 1985, spoke about his experience writing radio plays such as With Mama Anisa, which was later adapted for television. He learnt the technical complexities of writing radio dramas by collaborating with acclaimed directors and producers like Dawood Hussain and Mona Shaddad. His most recent work for television is a series titled Princess Kahraman and the City of Peace which will premiere in 2021 during Ramadan.

Penning a novel involves a different set of skills which he enjoys exercising. “I tend to live out my characters’ experiences in my mind and they tend to haunt me even after I complete the novel,” Al-Rifai revealed. “In fact, I have not been able to begin my next novel because I am still under the influence of the characters from my last radio series!”

Al-Rifai’s advice to aspiring Arab writers is to learn the intricacies of the language through an academic course or by reading quality literature and apply its richness and cultural diversity to connect with readers.