George Salama gave the following speech at the Armenian school on the occasion of the publication of the novel Abdullatif the Armenian: ‘A voice that rings in my ears and a call that touches my heart and my soul, a voice that triumphs for truth, a voice that broke the chains, it is your voice dear guest Ahmad Al-Sarraf, the voice we always like to hear.
‘I will not talk to you as a guest, you are one of the people of the house, and I say to you with all sincerity, you are always most welcome. I am fortunate to have read some of the articles you have written, and the novel Abdullatif the Armenian which reflects human sense and courage that does not care about the limits and barriers, and the literary courage that we desperately need.
‘I said to myself: If our nation has many writers who knew the true message of literature, we would be the best nation. You have chosen the literary honesty in what you wrote, and your novel and your articles have the taste that our souls are thirsty for. What is the value of literature that does not speak the truth, or does not revolt against injustice and corruption, dishonesty and suffering? We want to live for the present and refuse to follow those who say we build as our forefathers built and do as they did.
‘We wish the people who write to be as truthful as you are, to see the reality with your eyes, your heart and your mind, and allow me, Sir, to tell you about my impressions of this novel. I apologize to you first. I did not come as a critic but as a beneficiary. I read a lot about the tragedy of the Armenians based on my experience and work with them for more than thirty years, but your novel has had the greatest impact. You caught the artistic threads of the story, and brought the affecting facts with all the truth and realism, and made your readers live amidst these events and details otherwise the novel would not have this special taste.
‘You have proficiently described the injustice inflicted on a peaceful people who were uprooted from their lands and homes and thrown away into the unknown. A ten-year-old girl taken from her family away to the point of loss, and described it all in a real influential realistic language, yet you did not fall in the shafts of preaching and guidance but you left the characters to carry the noble goal that you drew and expressed in a way that shows knowledge of the art of fiction, and left the events going naturally and flow like a stream. The elements of entanglement and suspense were influential enough to get the attraction of the reader to the end.
The language was simple and suitable for the characters, it was neither lofty nor slang, a language that does not tire the reader but rather to follow events. ‘Sir: From the hills of Armenia I give you three apples and a bouquet of roses, and I say to the children of the Armenian community: ‘Open your homes and hearts to this novel’.’
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf