Real-Life Dystopia Spawns Future Life Sci-fi   Leave a comment

Basma Abdel Aziz

Basma Abdel Aziz (Credit: aalbc.com)

An article in the New York Times caught my attention today: “Middle Eastern Writers Find Refuge in the Dystopian Novel.” In it, the above-pictured author, Basma Abdel Aziz, goes on to describe her inspiration for writing her novel, “The Queue.” A psychiatrist by trade, she gained inspiration for this novel by watching people waiting for hours in a long line at a closed government building. “The Queue” takes this real-life situation and uses it the foundation for its plot: people forced to wait in an interminable line to petition for basic services…and never receiving them.

Other authors to watch,  according to the New York Times article, include Yasmine el-Rashidi, author of “A Chronicle of Last Summer”; Ahmed Saadawi, author of “Frankenstein in Bagdad”; Shukri al-Mabkhout, author of “The Italian”; Salem Haddad, author of “Guapa” and Khaled Khalifa, author of “No Knives in the Kitchen of This City.”

Each of the above novels goes on to describe a situation that mirrors actual events in the Middle East, and incorporates the frustration and anger from both current and past events. Basra Abdel Aziz uses her writing to depict how much things have fallen after the promising Arab Spring and, in some instances, have gotten worse.

While the world has never truly known peace, we’ve had glimpses of it and know that life can be enjoyable if we show a bit more humanity towards everyone. For some reason, it seems that world leaders, as well as potential ones, believe we’re better off blowing each other off the face of the earth, kicking them out of a particular resident country, or engage in ethnic cleansing. While I’ve never quite understood how or why this philosophy makes any nation better, it certainly gives lots of authors something to write about.

We go on to fight our wars, exclude citizens from our nations because they look different or pray to a God we don’t quite understand, or what what the other country has, especially if they won’t share it. And with each episode of these international and domestic tragedies, there gives rise to authors whose means of protest is a science fiction novel that speaks the truth.

Perhaps on this Memorial Day weekend, as we munch on our burgers and shop for great savings, we should take a few moments not only to recognize that soldiers give up their lives to protect ideals, but the authors who take witness to these events and lightly shroud the truth in their writings. Buy their books, take them to the beach, and support their efforts. After all, they’re asking you to read between the lines and experience their real-life dystopia through sci-fi colored glasses.

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