Arab world welcomed Aadujeevitham, says Arabic translator

Denies news about Saudi Arabia, UAE banning the novel as mere grapevine

Updated - March 30, 2024 11:32 pm IST

Published - March 30, 2024 09:10 pm IST - MALAPPURAM

Suhail Wafy, who translated Benyamin’s Aadujeevitham into Arabic.

Suhail Wafy, who translated Benyamin’s Aadujeevitham into Arabic.

Suhail Wafy, the writer who translated Benyamin’s celebrated novel Aadujeevitham into Arabic, denied the rumours that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had banned the book.

“It may be a story cooked up for the promotion of the book. The Arabic translation, Ayyamul Maaiz, was available in all major book fairs in the Arab world, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi book fairs since its publication in 2014,” said Mr. Wafy on the eve of the release of Prithviraj’s film based on the novel.

The Arab world has by and large welcomed the novel Ayyamul Maaiz in spite of some critical reviews by the Arab writers. Arabic programmes in institutions such as Al Aqsa University, Palestine, and Kannur University have prescribed the novel as part of their curriculum. Calicut University too is planning to include Ayyamul Maaiz in its Arabic syllabus.

The book is available in most university libraries, particularly in Arabic speaking countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria, Tunisia, Somalia, Chad, UAE, Jordan, Eritrea, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, Mauritania, and Djibouti.

Mr. Wafy, who lives in Qatar, said that many Arabs were deeply touched by the novel though it portrayed them in a slightly bad light. “Qatari novelist Dalal Khalifa, during a chat we had, told me that the story had haunted her for days on end. She was deeply touched by the book,” said Mr. Wafy.

However, he suggested that readers and viewers should take the story with a pinch of salt. “It’s a real-life story but not devoid of fiction. Reality and fiction are intertwined into a great work of art,” he said.

It was Mr. Wafy’s mother who persuaded him to translate Benyamin’s book into Arabic. “My mom was so excited, and she told me that it was a story that Arabs should read.”

Ayyamul Maaiz was Mr. Wafy’s first work of translation. Compared to many other books that he translated later into Arabic, Aadujeevitham was easier. “It was quite an easy task. Compared to Benyamin’s some other works, Aadujeevitham lacks that depth of craft,” he said.

Novelist Benyamin and Najeeb, the real-life protagonist of the novel, have admitted that artistic liberties were exercised for the book. “There are several exaggerated or added things in the novel. Therefore, people should not be misled to assume that the book or the cinema is a real story,” said Mr. Wafy.

Mr. Wafy, quoting several Arab writers, suggested that Arbab, the uncivilised Arab who enslaved Najeeb, must have been a demented person. “He must be the real goat, not Najeeb,” said Mr. Wafy.

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