It’s May 12, the Day for Ahmed Naji: Texts to Read, Online Book Discussions, Radio Programs, More

It’s the International Day of Readings for Ahmed Naji, an Egyptian novelist in prison for two years because an excerpt of his novel Using Life (Istikhdam al-Hayah) was found guilty of “violating public morals.” The “day” will continue to echo, and will include a “day of blogging for Naji” on May 16, which is when Naji receives his free-speech award from PEN American in absentia; a reading in Oslo on the 20th; and a radio program in Slovenian on the 22nd: 

useoflifeThe readings began yesterday, outside Amsterdam. Most are today, May 12 (the list is here). Texts being read include:

Numerous other journalists, photojournalists, satirists, and others are also in prison or facing jail time; novelist Ibrahim Faghali has asked that writer-scholar Islam el Behairy not be forgotten.

If you are not near an event, do take a photograph of yourself reading, or record audio or video, and share. Scottish PEN is also hosting their first-ever Twitter book club to discuss the excerpt. They write:

We will be releasing six questions about the book that we would like you to discuss. To take part, simply tweet your answer and tag @ScottishPEN in your response. We will retweet our favourite answers on our page.

Also read:

Jenifer Evans at Mada Masr: Global solidarity readings for Ahmed Naji to increase pressure on Egypt.”

Writer Tarek Ghanem has imagined his way into the scene where Naji is found pre-emptively guilty in “Hala and the Dinosaur.”

More at the Facebook group “Egypt Art on Trial.”