Three Tunisian novels were nominated out of 50 books from 14 countries in the short list of the European Union Prize for the year 2021, which is funded by the Creative Europe Program, which Tunisia joined as the first Mediterranean and Arab country, with the aim of supporting Tunisian cultural actors by participating in the subprogrammes specified by it to present projects according to the applicable conditions. On cultural actors in the European Union.
And as it is involved in the Creative Europe program that funds the European Union Literature Competition that was established more than 10 years ago, Tunisia and the Arabic language will be represented, for the first time in the history of this competition, through the novel “Zendali the Night of January 14, 2011” by Amin Al-Ghazi (by Dar Zainab for Publishing), and two Tunisian novels in the French language were chosen with her, the first entitled “L’Emirat” by Bashir Qarrouj (from Demeter Publishing) and Sept morts “audacieux et un poète assis” by Saber Al-Mansouri (Elisad Publications). Read also Preserving memory and dialogue between two tongues … Berber stories from the Tunisian island of Djerba Two types of Francophonie in Morocco and Tunisia .. Al-Jazeera Net polls the opinions of intellectuals about writing on the borders of FranceIt goes back to multiple historical periods, including Punic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic … the legacy of the sunken antiquities in Tunisia The old port … the “pearl” of Bizerte, Tunisia, and its beating heart
These works have been nominated by a Tunisian jury, and the winners of the 2021 edition will be revealed on May 18, during a ceremony broadcasted online. Only one novel is nominated for each participating country, allowing all countries and languages to be represented in a 3-year cycle, according to the competition rules.
The three Tunisian novels were chosen from among a group of literary works from various European countries, namely Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Sweden.
The first Arab novel
“Zindali the night of January 14, 2011” by Amin Al-Ghazi is the only and first Arabic novel to be nominated for the European Union Literature Competition. Its author tells Al-Jazeera Net, “My novel competes with 50 novels from 14 countries, and it is the only Arabic novel. The way for many to go on writing in the Dhad language and participating in major international competitions.
As for Zindali’s novel, it is a novel that captures the historical moment that Tunisia experienced on the night of January 14, 2011, and gathered Tunisian personalities in public spaces to return to the memory of that pivotal night, and it does not have one hero, but its heroes are many. In his way of coexisting with new events, the novel was written in classical Arabic, with some dialogues in the Tunisian dialect, and its owner says that it is deliberate to give more credibility to the events.
Regarding the name of the novel, the writer explained that the word Zindali means prison music in the Tunisian dialect, and it is also a type of male popular dancing music that is also called Al-Shawarie, and “it is the metaphor that I chose in my novel about an event after the escape of the ousted President Ben Ali.”
It is noteworthy that Amin Al-Ghazi is the author of the lyrics of the famous revolutionary song in the Tunisian dialect that accompanied the Arab revolutions, “My Word is Free”, which was performed by Tunisian artist Amal Mathlouthi and met with unrivaled success.
Al-Jazeera Net had met the Tunisian poet at the beginning of this year in a dialogue about Tunisian literature, singing and revolutionary memory, and Al-Ghazi said in the interview that “the Tunisian Zindali, contrary to what some have argued, is not the music of the prisoners – even if the novel included a prison song – but a kind of music. Male folk dancer is closer.
He continued, “The idea of writing about the revolution remains very attractive, especially at the time of its occurrence, but the most difficult matter is to rewrite it when its killers appear to defend it before it was buried. My novel was not a celebration of a revolution that failed, or an evocation of its spirit more than standing at the beginning of a new phase of formation.” Awareness, after the exit of Ben Ali. “
He added, “In my novel I obtained many details from published reports and oral testimonies, and I also relied on collecting several characters who lived through the events, each in a special way, and this is what made the novel take that documentary direction, but it was also fictional because all of these characters did not belong to the events. Realism is related to – as it is usually said – the shooting incident in the last painting of the novel did not happen at all, while the second shooting occurred, for example, based on a real incident mentioned in one of the reports I have seen.
And he added, “I also had a real desire not to kill any of the characters in the novel, and that was totally unrealistic in those days.”
The young novelist asserted that the language of the novel is Arabic, and “the dialogues sometimes come in the Tunisian dialect as an expression of the characters’ utterance at that moment and the realistic event that imposes itself. This explicit and sometimes shocking language may be less vulgar than the tyranny, oppression and hegemony that tyrants want to impose on brains, bodies and aspirations. “.
Regarding the characters of his novel, Al-Ghazi considered that they are “a group of simple and dumb people who found themselves in a public space that they did not participate even once in organizing or in defending it. They are counter heroes, each trying in his own way to coexist with events that confirm that the unity of peoples and the unification of ranks are nothing but constructive sentences.”