The Arab Spring was a revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests, riots and civil wars that began on 17 December 2010 and dominated the news for most of 2011. In the five years since the people of Tunisia and other countries took to the streets to protest against their governments, a number of writers have shifted away from realism and turned to science fiction to describe the grim political realities faced by the region’s citizens. Although dystopian themes are not entirely new in Arabic fiction, these have become much more prominent in recent years as it gives writers the room to express the sense of despair they feel in the face of cyclical violence and repression. In addition, the futuristic settings gives the writers the freedom to cover political ideas without being labelled opposers of the state.
This event explores the literary trajectory in North Africa since the Arab Spring from the initial outburst of optimism to grim dystopian narratives, from the more traditional literary form of poetry in the region to writers experimenting with other literary forms. It will also examine the impact of political realities in the fiction from sub-Saharan countries and how it compares to what has emerged in North Africa since the Arab Spring of 2011.
Yasmine El Rashidi (@yasminerashidi) will participate in the discussion via skype. Yasmine is an Egyptian writer. She is the author of The Battle for Egypt, Dispatches from the Revolution (2011), and the novel, Chronicle of a Last Summer, A Novel of Egypt (2016). She is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and an editor of the Middle East arts quarterly Bidoun. Her essays have been published widely, and anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution, Writing Revolution, and the New York Review Abroad: Fifty Years of International Reportage. She was a 2015/16 Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and a visiting professor at Princeton University. She lives in Cairo.
Samar Samir Mezghanni (@SamarSamirMEZ) is a Tunisian writer with two records in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest writer in the world in 2000 and the most prolific writer in the world in 2002. She has written over a hundred short stories for children and published 14 books. Some of her stories were turned into a TV program for children produced in Cairo. Samar has received many awards and certifications for her work from different princes, presidents, foundations and associations. She was recently selected as one of the 17 United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals amongst 18 000 candidates worldwide. She was classified as one of the most influential Arab women in 2013 and one of the most important young leaders in the Arab region in 2012.
A 2007 recipient of Ghana’s ACRAG award, Nii Ayikwei Parkes (@BlueBirdTail) is the author of the hybrid novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, which is translated into Dutch, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan and Japanese. Originally shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize, the book has gone on to win the Prix Baudelaire, Prix Mahogany and Prix Laure Bataillon. Nii Ayikwei's book of poetry, The Makings of You was also well-received and in 2014 he was named as one of Africa's 39 most promising authors of the new generation. He was recently appointed director of the soon to be inaugurated Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of Communications in Accra, the first of its kind in West Africa.
Bola Mosuro (@bbcBola) is news presenter on the BBC World Service. She has a keen interest in the arts and in gender issues. Hailing from Nigeria, she was raised in both London and Lagos. Bola studied Peace and Conflict studies in Northern Ireland and is married with three children.
Based at LSE, the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (@AfricaAtLSE) promotes independent academic research and teaching; open and issue-oriented debate; and evidence-based policy making.
Suggested Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSELitFest
This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2017, taking place from Monday 20 - Saturday 25 February 2017, with the theme 'Revolutions'.
A podcast of this event is available to download from African Revolutions: From the streets to the written word
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.