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AN EVENING WITH ZAKARIA TAMER proved to be a momentous occasion at which Zakaria was rightly celebrated as the great and renowned author that he is.
Paul Blezard, Zakaria Tamer and Mohamed-Salah Omri
It was also a memorable event for Arabic literature. Waterstone's Fourth Floor was packed with an audience who listened attentively and enthralled to every word from Zakaria, as well as to the readers of his short stories newly translated for Banipal 53, and to the other speakers – all contributing to a wonderful evening.
Instagram has been bursting with photos taken with Zakaria. Banipal now has an Instagram account, and our Facebook has an album of photos from the evening – thanks to Samuel and Ghazi for these.
Among the quotes flashing around:
"Such an honour to spend this evening with Syrian master of the short story"
"Wonderful audience at a memorable event"
And from Zakaria Tamer himself, during the evening's discussions:
"Often Arabic literature is translated as a tourist guide rather than for the sake of good literature."
and "The novel is the art of chatter".
During the evening a number of short stories were read – by Clare Roberts, Amani Hassan, Fleur Montanaro (pictured), Jonathan Wright (who had translated five for Banipal 53) and Daniel Lowe
We were pleased to welcome Syrian Journalists and authors Basheer al-Baker, Dima Alchukr and Maher Manzelji to the floor, who spoke in tribute of Zakaria's works.
A surprise contributor to the discussion was Alessandro Columbu, who came down from Edinburgh University especially for the event. As he had written an interesting article in Banipal 53 on his personal work on Zakaria Tamer's writings, From Damascus to Oxford and Cagliari, we were doubly pleased to welcome him.
After Q&A with the audience, Zakaria was surrounded by "fans", many of whom managed to get photos with him, and have him sign their copies of Banipal 53.
Too soon, it was time to bid farewell, and see Zakaria and Mohamed-Salah into a taxi to get the train back to Oxford, while a few of us repaired to a local hostelry to raise yet another toast to this most inspiring and original and modest short story writer.