Mohamed Hasan Alwan on Being a Saudi Writer and Why You Should Translate His Work

Mohamed Hasan Alwan is a Saudi novelist (born in 1979, so well beneath the cut-off for being a member of the Beirut39) with an MBA. He was interviewed by Sousan Hammad for the Beirut39 blog.

The young Alwan has three novels to his name: Saqf Elkefaya, Sophia, and Touq Altahara.

Hammad says the most recent of Alwan’s novels, Statistics, predicts his family members” deaths (statistically) and is obsessed with inheritance and deviation from social tradition. She asked about his own deviations from social tradition:

I will have to say that the way I pursue my intellectual life is somehow inconsistent with my family tradition. I grew up in a conservative house that has become increasingly religious over time. Therefore, I had to attune culturally sensitive social skills to preserve my freedom of thought and expression without fracturing familial bonds. Such struggles are very common in Saudi Arabia at its current transitional period, or milestone. Those societal shifts are first observed by writers and later experienced by the wider society.

A number of his short stories (and one poem) are available on his website, translated into English. He also asks anyone who is able to translate literary fiction to give one of his stories a go—this seems a frightening offer to me, but he may well turn up a gem of a translator.

In fact, why don’t you give one of them a go?