It is not a secret that in the course of becoming a better writer one needs hard work, dedication and commitment, and above all talent. When I started my journey to pursue a dream of becoming something of writer of words on white paper, I had to read a lot, not only fiction and literary works both in Arabic and English, but also non-fiction books of different subjects.

Libyan fiction has a very recent history in comparison with other neighbouring countries, but in the same time it has a long one also in comparison to other Arabic countries as well. Although the first short fiction published in newspapers and magazines dates back to the 1930s by the writer Wahbi Albouri, and others in the following years, it wasn’t possible to publish short fiction collections and books until after the Libyan independence in 1951.

The first collection of short fiction was published in 1957 by AbdulKader Abuharous, and since then the short fiction and later on other genres of narrative started to be published every year by a wave of young and energetic writers, some of them I read their first books in my father’s library, and they became my mentors in this never ending quest to be…

Among those writers is the novelist Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih, who after a long history of writing short stories, plays, scripts, essays, critiques, and five novels, the most known is his Trilogy (I Shall Offer You Another City, The Borders of My Kingdom, A Tunnel Lit By One Woman) which was highly praised as one of the best in modern Arab literature, has recently published his biggest work of fiction, one of the longest, if not the longest and biggest novel in modern Arab literary fiction, the novel, a Dodecalogy (meaning twelve parts), comprises of twelve parts in more than 3000 pages collectively, it took him more than a decade to complete, and another two years just for revising and editing to be published this month in Beirut.

The novel is called Maps of the Soul (Kharayt Al Rouh), tells the story of a Libyan man (Othman) born in a small village in the Libyan desert in the early 20th century, where he migrates for many reasons to Tripoli in the 1930s, which was becoming a new Italian city on the Mediterranean, and then how (Othman) evolves and changes according to situation and need to a newly formed being, fighting with the Italian army in its campaign in Ethiopia, fighting with the English army in the second world war, and then becoming an officer in the newly established Libyan army in the 1950s, and then losing his way in the desert.

This epic novel is a live example that talent with hard work, dedication, and commitment can yield great work that can be compared to other great human literary works.

I am very proud to say that the Libyan writer and novelist Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih is one of those writers that I can call my mentor in writing, who I knew personally since 2001, and was of great help to me in my early steps, supporting and giving advice when ever necessary, and who wrote a small comment on the back cover of my first collection of short stories Till When..? (Ella Matta..?) 2001.

From left: Writers Ahmed Fagih, Juma Bukleb, Ghazi, and Mohamed Baeo Musrati, London Dec. 2007

I had the chance to meet him many times last week here in London, where we spent a nice time together with other Libyan writers, and as usual he was full of energy, ideas, stories and experiences… To him I dedicate this post and to all my Libyan writing mentors.
P.S: If you wish to read the complete twelve parts of the Ahmed Fagih’s epic novel in Arabic you can visit his website and download the novel… please click here