(1974, Saudi Arabia) is an up-and-coming Egyptian writer. In 2003 he published his first novel, An Takoun Abbas El Abd (Being Abbas El Abd), which appeared in English in 2006. The book will be published in a Dutch translation and launched at Winternachten (publishing house De Geus). In his novel Alaidy combines street language with classical Arabic. According to Humphrey Davies, the English translator of the book, this results in "a disorienting sense of a breakdown of borders." The Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram wrote enthusiastically: "The millennial generation's most celebrated literary achievement." In addition to being a novelist Alaidy is a cartoonist. He writes politically orientated cartoons for the Egyptian weekly al-Dostour. He is also a scriptwriter for various tv programmes and films and a graphic designer.(WIN 2008)
Archive available for: Ahmed Alaidy
Shabandar Café is a programme by Gemak, the new centre for western and non-western art, politics and debate, of The Hague Gemeentemuseum and the Vrije Academie. With Shabandar Café Gemak links up with the Winternachten festival. Gemak is named after the famous meeting place of artists and intellectuals in Bagdad. Enjoy the most refined forms of Iraqi culture: live classical Arab Moqam music, an Iraqi storyteller and poetr, a short Iraqi documentary on Café Shabandar, tea and the tastiest Iraqi snacks.
The exhisition space of Gemak has been decorated for the occasion in that of the original café, destroyed in March 2007. Honorary guests: the Arab writers taking part in festival Winternachten. An English-Arabic language programme, compiled by the Iraqi visual artist Rashad Selim.
For more information on the programme see www.gemak.org. In English and Arabic
Shabandar is the name of a café on Al Mutanabi Street
where for decades Baghdad's cultural elites met
discussing books, poetry and politics
or dropping in for a coffee after visiting the book vendors' stalls
on the busy street outside
Everybody interested in books came here
to buy them in the good years
to sell them during the sanctions
to be transported by their covers
if they were penniless
On the 5th of March 2007
one car bomb attack among many
and the book market outside
Shabandar Café has left Baghdad
even if its walls are rebuilt
5000 years of urban culture
scattered to the four corners of the Earth
Is this a coincidence? Three debuts from countries far apart, showing striking resemblances. The novels of Jonas Hassen Khemiri (Sweden), Hassan Bahara (Netherlands) and Ahmad al-Aidi (Egypt) are set in the big city, in multi-ethnic surroundings, and the main characters share the same radical anti-attitude: they rebel against the dominant culture or against their own insensitive milieu. How to rebel? By manipulating, bastardising, by silencing language, by, as is the case with Al-Aidi, mixing street language with classical Arabic. These young urban writers give us their image of contemporary, chaotic city life and although this is not particularly cheerful, at least their free use of language makes for an agreeable vitality. New literature of the 21st century. Interviewer: Paul van der Gaag. In English.
In this opening programme two well-matched authors perform: Flemish writer Dimitri Verhulst and Egyptian writer Ahmad al-Aidi. The speed in their prose is breathtaking, the use of language direct and the humour disturbingly sharp. For Winternachten they each wrote a story in which they respond to existing images of fear of 'the Arab' and 'the westerner' respectively. After no doubt a beguiling read by the two, Nelleke Noordervliet will talk to them about literary intimidation and the limits they draw themselves. Famous cartoonist Willem (Le Monde, HP/De Tijd, Vrij Nederland) reacts with pencil on the stories. Ahmad al-Aidi's novel 'I am Abbaas al-Abd' will be presented. In English.