A Ghada Samman Duet
One of the most prolific novelists in the Arab world, Ghada Samman, remains as busy as ever in enriching the Arab library of letters and engaging the literary imaginations of scholars and critics. Two new books further that trend, one by her and one about her. “The Owl Told Me And Said,” by Syrian critic Ibrahim Mahmoud, published by Dar al-Talia, Beirut, is an aesthetic-textual approach to an earlier book by Samman, “Dancing with the Owl.” The new work by Samman is titled: “The Young Woman Will Come to Admonish You—The Beginnings of Rebellion,” and is published by Ghada Samman Publications, Beirut.
In “The Owl Told Me and Said,” Mahmoud raises a series of questions about the significance of the owl in Samman’s writings. According to a review in the London and Beirut-based Al Hayat newspaper, Mahmoud asserts that Samman abandoned her own image and found the image of her dreams in the owl. She understands that she cannot escape her image during the day, but whenever she looks into the magical mirror at night, rather than finding her own mundane likeness, she sees instead the wide eyes of the owl, a bird gifted with mythic psychological and spiritual powers of sight and free from the banalities of daily existence.
“The Young Woman Will Come to Admonish You” is the 17th volume of Samman’s “Incomplete Works,” a collection that includes unpublished essays. It is the fifth in a series of conversations between Samman and her literary colleagues, parts of which appeared in “The Tribe Interrogates the Victim,” “The Sea Tries a Fish,” “Wandering Inside a Wound,” and “Putting Love on Trial.” Literary figures Ghali Shukri, Mutah Safadi, and George al-Rassi are among those with whom Samman conversed.
In praising Ghada Samman, the late Moroccan author Muhammed Choukri said, “She was the foremost daring literary figure in the Arab world during this century. Ghada Samman is a pioneer among the courageous authors, whether in her interviews or creative works; she was steadfast in spite of all temptations, and it is my hope that others who appreciate her will also add their own.”