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The Call of the West

June 11, 20157:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 7:00 p.m. Free entrance until the event’s capacity is reached.
In Arabic, with simultaneous translation into Spanish.

Egyptian writer Gamal Ghitany is presenting this humor-filled fable at Casa Árabe.

Attending the presentation, organized by Casa Árabe and Alianza Editorial, along with the author are Arabist and professor emeritus of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Pedro Martínez Montávez, and Eduardo López Busquets, the General Director of Casa Árabe.

The day before, on June 10, Gamal Ghitany will be signing his books as of 7:00 p.m. at the Casa Árabe / Balqís Bookstore stand at the Madrid Book Fair  (on the “Paseo de Coches” in the Retiro Park).

The Call of the West (La llamada de Poniente) is a fable reminiscent of the charm of the Thousand and One Nights. In the successive passages of the book, of extreme narrative beauty, lies humor-filled satire about the absurdity of certain social and political customs in the Arab world. However, it is also an ode to the wonders of that world, to the mysteries of human life that walk towards the unknown following the course of the sun, to the places where the sun sets in the West.

Young Ahmad is at his humble Cairo home in the middle of the night. He hears a voice ordering him to walk towards the unknown, following the path of the sun. While on his journey, Ahmad joins a camel caravan, learns how to find his way through the desert, becomes a guest at an oasis uncharted on maps, is acclaimed as the prince of an incredible empire and finally ends up at the shore of the ocean, standing before its great immensity. All he is carrying are a few books.

Gamal Ghitany
Ghitany is one of the great authors in contemporary Egyptian literature, who is close to Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, about whom he authored a biography. Ghitany had his first book of short stories published when he was just 17 years old, at a time when he worked designing carpets and rugs. He later became a journalist. Ghitany started out by covering the Arab-Israeli wars, the war in Lebanon and the war between Iraq and Iran. He later held management positions at several of the most prestigious media agencies in Egypt. A committed author and journalist, in the seventies he was jailed by the Nasser regime, and was later prohibited from publishing his criticism of President Sadat for several years. His novels have been translated into the main languages, especially The Call of the West and Zayni Barakat. In 1980, he received Egypt’s National Prize for Literature.
The Call of the West
Gamal Ghitany. Photo: Getty Images.