Chewing Gum by Mansour Bushnaf – @DarfPublishers
A Novel That Represents ‘A Complete Generation of Libyan Writers and Intellectuals’
The following is a repost of a wonderful article written by Marcia Lynx Qualey. The original article can be found here.
Libyan poet, translator, and short-story writer Ghazi Gheblawi has been enthusiastically tweeting about Mansour Bushnaf’s Chewing Gum, now out in English translation, by Mona Zaki, from Darf Publishers.
So, what’s the big deal about Chewing Gum?
Gheblawi initially wrote on his blog:
This is a book that I first read in Arabic, when it was published by a small independent publisher in Cairo in 2007, the novel which wasn’t allowed to be distributed by Libyan authorities inside the country, was handed over from one reader to another and became famous for its satirical criticism of the Qaddafi regime.
Now in its new resurrected form in English, “Chewing Gum” has proven to be one of the best novels in modern times to describe in a satirical, cynical style the Libyan society under tyranny. The novel’s absurd approach to many aspects of a society striving to live against political and social challenges, introduces us to the reality of despotism.
Reading “Chewing Gum” for the second time in this excellent English translation, and especially after three years of Qaddafi’s demise, I felt that this novel will continue to be a must read to understand an obscure country and an isolated society that are still in the process of forging a nation that was fragmented under decades of colonialism, war, and dictatorship.
ArabLit: What makes this book so special? Vs. other Libyan novels and short stories written in the same era?
Ghazi Gheblawi: This is a novel that was written by a prolific essayist and playwright, which gave it a unique style among other works of Libyan novels.
I can also claim that it is a novel that represents a complete generation of Libyan writers and intellectuals, that were the first modernists in Libyan literature in 1970s and were unfortunate to face directly the brutality of the Libyan regime in its early years, which took more than a decade of their lives in imprisonment.
The novelist was the first to approach the subject of imprisonment in a work of literature and got it published, though not successfully distributed, under the Qaddafi regime.
You can read the full article at ArabLit.com