Beirut Short Stories Short stories for long-lasting dialogue

Developing stories, enhancing skills: Beirut Short Stories promotes and links up-and-coming authors from the Arabic-speaking world. Orwa Al Mokdad is one of the finalists.
Developing stories, enhancing skills: Beirut Short Stories promotes and links up-and-coming authors from the Arabic-speaking world. Orwa Al Mokdad is one of the finalists. | Photo: Marwan Tahtah

Writing workshop for the next generation in Lebanon: with Beirut Short Stories, the Goethe-Institut combines the promotion of young talent with international networking. Three young authors from Lebanon presented their short stories in Germany. You can read them here.

It began in Cairo and was now transferred to Beirut: Beirut Short Stories offers young talents in the Arabic-speaking literary scene the opportunity to enhance their skills in writing workshops. Each workshop is conducted by an Arabic-speaking writer – in this case it was Hussain Al-Mozany.

In addition to continuing professional development, the project serves to network the participants selected by a Syrian-Lebanese-German jury and gives an international readership insight into the literary work of young writers in the Arabic-speaking world.

Hussain Al-Mozany, Rola el Hussein and Ayham Kazoun (f.r.t.l.) as guests at the Frankfurt Book Fair Hussain Al-Mozany, Rola el Hussein and Ayham Kazoun (f.r.t.l.) as guests at the Frankfurt Book Fair | Photo: Marie-Hélène Gutberlet/KfW Stiftung The three winning authors presented their stories at the Frankfurt Book Fair and held readings at selected literary events in Germany.

What moves the three young writers from Lebanon? Read their short stories here.

Ayham Kazoun
The Capital

In the pitch dark of the kitchen, Jaber’s mother searched for matches. She opened a drawer and emptied its contents on the floor. Then she lit a candle and headed for Jaber’s room. She found him standing in the middle of the space with his back toward the door. His backpack was at his feet and he was pulling the woollen hood of his coat over his head.

“You must leave now,” she said. Jaber saw that she was holding back the tears. “They’ve reached the street opposite us.”

He turned and put his arms around her, closed his eyes and filled his lungs with the fragrance of her hair. He did not want to look her in the face; couldn’t bear to see her tears.

“Don’t worry, Mother,” he muttered. “They won’t get me. I’ll hide out for two or three days before I return to drink my morning coffee with you.”

He kissed her hands, picked up his backpack, and walked out into the freezing night.

Read the entire story here.

Orwa Al Mokdad
Madame Suzanne

I had decided to forget my past when I crossed the sea to Europe.

From the window of my cramped room in Berlin, I would observe the city’s streets. How does a person learn to forget?

For almost five years I had been unable to paint. It began when the demonstrations flared up and people were slain in the streets. Since then I was not able to hold a brush. From the window of my home in Douma, I witnessed the shelling and killing of the civilians but merely as scenes I could not paint. How could a picture bring a youth back to life? How could colours alter the ashes from a bombardment or scattered limbs?

Read the entire story here.

Rola Hussein
The Dress

This was not the first time she’d stood in front of the shop window gazing at the dress. What made this time different though, was that she would soon walk through the door to buy it.

For the past couple of months she had been counting the roses that formed its repeated motif; had been fingering the fabric with her eyes, postponing any attempt to touch it till she was ready.

Read the entire story here.
 


About the authors:

Ayham Kazoun
Ayham Kazoun is a Lebanese writer and blogger. He is currently a Partnership Coordinator at Save the Children (Lebanon) and has worked as a Projects Coordinator for the British Council. He has written for Shbab Alnahar newspaper and writes his own blog under the name “Louis K” on Facebook.

Rola el Hussein
Rola el Hussein is a Lebanese writer. She has worked as a scriptwriter for Al Rayyan TV and a producer for Dubai TV. Three of her poetry books have been published by dar al jaded / dar al ghawoun. Her creative writing and feature writing has been published by o2publising.com and several Lebanese newspapers.

Orwa Al Mokdad
Orwa Al Mokdad studies journalism and works for several Syrian and pan-Arab newspapers. He has also been a reporter for Al Jazeera and BBC, and won the Samir Kassir Award for freedom of the press. He has made several short films, including Street Music (2013), Under the Aleppo Sky (2013) and Under The Tank (2014), selected for Locarno’s section Pardi di domani – Concorso internazionale.