The AFP article about The Memoirs of Randa the Trans has been making its way around English-speaking papers; yesterday, it was in The Independent; I believe I also saw it in Lebanon’s Daily Star.
Randa’s memoirs have been covered previously (in the LA Times blog, for instance), but this is probably their first wide introduction into English. I would not be surprised if the memoir made its way into English, as—in the paper on the book Alessandro Buontempo delivered at this year’s EURAMAL conference—Buontempo noted that the book is “extremely subtly crafted.”
The title of Buontempo’s paper (I wasn’t there, so I’m working off the abstract) was: “Considerations about Hazem Saghieh’s Mudhakkirat Randa Iltrans: How to Handle a Difficult Topic in a Biography.”
Besides the importance of the subject itself, we find the authorship extremely relevant: Hazim Saghieh is a well known Lebanese writer on politics and society, as well as a reputed politics columnist for the London based daily paper al-Hayat.
He says that while the primary value of the work is its courageous stand, “this doesn’t mean that this biography is not a work of art: the writing intervenes, here, almost fictionalizing the story, giving to it an aesthetic (and, eventually, marketable) value.”
The book, he says, straddles the line between biography and autobiography, and—like most successful memoirs do—uses many of the tools of fiction.
Unfortunately, the abstract doesn’t give us much more, but this is a good tease: “I will try to show how and through which mechanisms Saghieh exercises the authorial control, keeping strong and visible links with his intellectual activity, and leaving his mark on a story which is not ‘his’.”
I haven’t seen the book around Cairo (surprise!) but I’m certainly interested in how he has crafted this work, and—of course—in the meat of it as well.