Confusion shrouds the path of the novelist and poet Raafat Al-Senussi from Upper Egypt to Iraq. In the words of Shaheen, the hero of his novel “Karada Maryam,” which takes its name from the prominent Baghdadi neighborhood, which is now known as the “Green Zone,” dozens of questions escape their control and explode on every page of the novel, which consists of 249 pages of small fragments.
No sooner has one of the novel's mazes ended than another one opens, so that the reader learns of the narrator's failure to find an ideal path to his life and his astonishment, even in love that is supposed to mean reassurance and peace, to decide in the end that “love is a great destruction, and great mistakes are followed by great love.”
He convinces the novel's hero that his small village and his world are open to pain and death for the sake of nonsense, “because in our country we are besieged by drought, and adversity is oppressing our feelings and all of our Arab countries.”
From poetry to fiction
Al-Senussi represents a state of creativity that goes beyond the novel to eloquent poetry, as evidenced by the translation of his collection: “An Overture to the Book of the Ends” into French by the “eDelivery” publishing house in Paris (2020). His seven published books also announce his bewilderment towards a reality that he sees as extremely cruel, deserving only The questions that overwhelm him as he searches for a savior from his accumulated predicaments, the events of which almost destroy all the countries that he visited through the protagonist of the novel.
The novelist is determined to reveal the wanderings of various characters; Including Egyptian, Iraqi, Jewish, Sudanese, Belgian and others, as his characters include the colors of the spectrum of people, starting from the eternal evil in the eyes of the ruling mayor who denies all beauty, to the beloved, innocent Khadija who surrenders to life, passing through Jasser, the son of the Jewish narrator, similar to the hero of Shakespeare’s masterpiece “The Merchant of Venice”; Jacir represents the contemporary version of Charlotte, who sells his friend Antonio and demands a pound of his flesh be cut off for an amount he has not paid.
The novel was written while the writer was away near the end of 2019, and most of it was poetic since its narrator dedicated it to “the loved ones who inhabited my novels,” even though the writer has no other published novel other than “Pomegranate Hill,” which he published in 2017.
The narrator's love is mixed with a tenderness similar to the character of Khadija, who “went on like a ghost and my heart followed her. I called out to him and he did not listen to me. What a disobedient heart you have, insisting on getting your share of a lost love,” as the novel's hero says.
But the novel does not stop at love, but rather tries to embrace wisdom, as it says about estrangement, “estrangement is nothing but a grave that a person enters voluntarily and alive, and then he is resurrected from it when longing and nostalgia overwhelm him.”
In the novel, he goes to Iraq at the end of the nineties of the last century, and returns there after the fall of Baghdad, so that the writer makes the technique of narrative review the basis of the narrative in the novel.
Al-Senussi believes that the fall of Baghdad was a major turning point in contemporary Arab history, and he lets the event destroy the good characters in his work, revealing the fragility of their feelings and their failure to face successive challenges, especially with “strangers who died in their exile and came in their coffins sealed with tin, and in their nostrils the air of exile.” Dryness and longing for their loved ones, God did not decree that it would be extinguished by the encounter.”
The writer describes everyone as “tired,” even inanimate objects, and says in the words of one of his characters in Upper Egypt, “I pushed the door and it made a loud wail as if I had stabbed it with a knife.” As for the well-known neighborhood of Baghdadi, “close to vital interests and presidential palaces,” fatigue has taken hold of everyone’s gatherings.” Just like the late Hashem’s dream of gathering hearts in his grandmother’s dress and then scattering them.”