The International Writers Magazine:Middle East
The Arab Spring: Inspiration for Writers & Artists?
For as long as we've had conflict, we've had people to document it. Whether that means painting images on cave walls or taking photos to distribute online, for as long as we've had the tools to do so, we've kept a record of large-scale conflicts. This desire to document could not be more apparent than in the world of literature and books.
For as long as we've had conflict, we've had people to document it. Whether that means painting images on cave walls or taking photos to distribute online, for as long as we've had the tools to do so, we've kept a record of large-scale conflicts. This desire to document could not be more apparent than in the world of literature and books. Some of the best and most expansive records of large historical events are to be found within the pages of a book. So it's easy to assume then, that any current conflict will also be documented in the form of books. We've already seen it happen with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq--and don't forget the movies and video games. So a question that comes to mind is: will the so-called 'Arab Spring'--political unrest in Middle Eastern countries--become the next focus of conflict-based literature?
What is the Arab Spring?
The Middle East has many countries which have long been ruled by dictatorships and other forms of non-democratic government. It was only a matter of time, then, that some of the people living under these conditions would rebel and fight back against these oppressive regimes. Since December 2010, there has been a wave of revolutionary behaviour and demonstrations across many different countries in the Middle East. Like a chain reaction, these protests spread across the area in such a way that as of September 2011, over 15 countries there have seen some form of protests. Many of these are smaller protests against the governments, such as those in Saudi Arabia; however the more well-known conflicts are the large-scale protests and revolutionary action in countries like Libya and Egypt. They are not destinations that one would consider for last minute cruises at this time. The name ‘Arab Spring’ refers to the way in which populations in these Arabic countries are ‘springing’ up and fighting the established government.
How Does Or Will the Arab Spring Affect the Literary World?
Because the situation is on-going, there aren’t any books yet--eiither fiction or non-fiction--chronicling the events of the Arab Spring; however it really is a matter of time until they start hitting book shop shelves. Think back over key events in history, then have a look in the history section of a book stockist, and you’ll see countless examples of how books have documented these events. Books are available on every event throughout history: from World War II to the construction of Stonehenge. And it’s not just factual books - there are countless novels based on these events, almost all of which are thoroughly researched and so portray an accurate picture of the events. In much the same way, it’s very likely that fiction and non-fiction authors will take inspiration from the events of the Arab Spring, and document it fully so that the true story can be told throughout the ages.
A Story to Be Remembered
The story almost writes itself: there are many thousands of people living through these events, all of whom have a story to tell. And what better story than that of the people rebelling against injustice and poor treatment? The Arab Spring is an unprecedented event in the history of the world - and writers will no doubt make it known that it was a time when the people said ‘no’ to oppression. Whether these authors choose to do that through the true stories of the people or via fictional characters, the point is that the story will be told - and the world will be a better place for it.
It is a unique time for those of us who are witnessing the Arab Spring as it grows and evolves throughout the Middle East. It cannot be forgotten that many people have tragically lost their lives; however this sadness is counterpointed by the inspirational story of people refusing to be oppressed. Only time will tell how this tumultuous time will end, but if there is any justice, the people in these countries will be left in a world which allows them to live happy lives in a safe and egalitarian environment where democracy rules the day. And the writers of the world will be watching and waiting to turn these events into some of the most important stories ever told.
© Dee Mason October 2011