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Khaja, Moshe and reading

Ahmad Al-Sarraf
Farah Khaja says in a message to me: “I very much enjoyed reading your book, which took me five days. However, it was possible to complete reading the book in less time, but for the work and family commitments.

“I’ve always been a fan of your articles, but unfortunately I was not following up, and even more unfortunate is that I did not tell you, even once, how much pleasure it was to see your picture and your article in Al-Qabas, but now the situation is different.

“I wanted to tell you that I appreciate what you write, and that your articles have changed my personality and my way of thinking, and to my knowledge, I have become more open to new topics and ideas and widened the scope of my knowledge and made me more compassionate and loving towards others.

“I’m better off today because of you, your style is interesting, easy, fun and abundant in information, with a laugh here and a smile there, always to the core of the issue. The topics of your articles are easy to assimilate and I have learned a lot from them.

“Thank you for insisting to continue writing daily, and thank you for your book which is most wonderful.”

This was one of the comments I received on my recent book ‘Kalam-el-nas’ (Talk of the people), which cost me a lot of effort, time and money, but after nearly a month the sales have not exceeded more than 500 books.

Am I shocked by all this indifference? Yes, to some extent. I know that we are courteous people, and distinguish between what is outside from the inside, but the result was shocking.

Since the date of issuance of the book, contacts, comments from the readers continue to pour in about what I write and every time I ask the caller if he/she had purchased my book, the answer more often than not is a ‘NO’.

The most renowned Indian journalist and editor Rustom Khurshedji Karanjia (1912 – 2008) stated in his famous book written in 1957 under the title ‘The Dagger of Israel’, the Israeli Minister of War, Moshe Dayan told him that Israel will one day destroy the Arab aircraft on the ground in one swoop and then the sky will belong only to Israel and thus resolved its war with the Arabs! This was what he achieved in the 1967 war.

When Karanjia asked the Minister of Defense why he disclosed that military information, or that future plan, he replied, because it is reassuring to know, that the Arabs do not read!

Of course, I do not compare what Dayan said or what Karanjia wrote, with the fate of my humble book, but I refer to all this flood of admiration and appreciation I receive and hear from a vast section of the readers.

But when it comes to the mention of the book and reading it, the issue becomes different when it comes to buying the book, let alone reading, it becomes a burden, or an adventure to many who do not wish to experience it.

This result may not be a surprise if we know that the rate of reading in the Arab world, according to the UNESCO report, is no more than a quarter of a page per person per year, compared to 11 books a year for an American. The Arabs also publish 1,650 books a year, compared to 85,000 thousand published annually in America.

e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

By Ahmad Al-Sarraf


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