Who are the ‘Arabic Booker’ Nominees? Jamal Naji

Jamal Naji is a Jordanian writer of Palestinian descent, born in the ‘Aqbat Jaber refugee camp in 1954.  Lonely Planet, in their guide to Jordan, called him a “writer to watch out for.” In a good way, I hope.

He began writing in 1975, and his first novel, The Road to Balharith, was published in 1981. His other novels include: Time, The Remnants of the Last Storms, Life on the Edge of Death, The Night of the Feathers, What Happened Thursday and The Target.

Lailat Al-Reesh (The Night of Feathers), was given a not-entirely-favorable review in Al Ahram Weekly. In part:

“Yet, in bringing together a work of such proportions, he has encountered problems all too evident in the text: his digressions tend to interrupt the flow of the writing, for example; he does not always employ the strictest economy of means; and the action seldom takes place outside the bank itself, undermining readability. ”

Naji was president of the Jordanian Writers Association from 2001-2003 and he currently works as head of the Intelligentsia Centre for Research and Survey in Amman, Jordan. He is a father of five.

What is Naji’s book about?

When the Wolves Grow Old:

When the Wolves Grow Old reveals the secret lives of the social climbers who have travelled from Amman’s poor quarters to positions of wealth and power, providing an insight into the world of the city’s preachers, politicians and charitable institutions. The book is told by a succession of characters who narrate incidents and scenes that repeat, conflict and develop from one character to the next. However the protagonist, ‘Azmi al-Wajih, remains silent and shrouded in mystery throughout the novel: is he the only one of these wolves that does not grow old? When the Wolves Grow Old is a story of human frailty and the complex interaction between sex, religion and politics.