Great Conversations: Revolution: Telling the Tale - Ahdaf Soueif and Omar Robert Hamilton

Fri, March 11, 2011 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all great conversations »)

Watch a video of this event here

Moderated by Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous

Free and Open to the Public. Limited seating available on a first come, first served basis.

Doors open at 5:30pm

For Amy Goodman Interview with Ahdaf Soueif on Democracy Now! Click Here

Revolutions of the people or mass upheavals are almost impossible to categorize. They capture a collective sentiment, or a large structure of feelings and attitudes that are more than just an event in the making, for it embodies an inventory of historical and civilizational traces that make such a turning point, an epistemic break, possible. It cannot be pigeon-holed, and one can speak about it only in metaphors-and metaphor is the kind of thing that is never itself.

Revolutions are youthful and are about large questions of human dignity, shared romanticism, questions that one cannot imagine tired scholarship and localized expertise of social science and area studies are capable of entirely addressing. It is the work of fiction that is best related by a raconteuse such as Ahdaf Soueif. More than that, revolutions are also a family affair with all its perceptible care and tenderness, secrets, triangulation and tensions-if anything that one can venture as revolution's ubiquitous characteristic it is the reckoning with an ancien regime. In homage to this narrative, Alwan will host a conversation moderated by Amy Goodman between Ahdaf Soueif and her son Omar Robert Hamilton, both of whom were in Tahrir Square, Cairo, participating throughout, filming and disseminating information, and have since been writing about it all, but have never had the opportunity between themselves for a reflective encounter.

Ahdaf Soueif is known for the bestselling novel, The Map of Love, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1999 and subsequently translated into more than 20 languages. She is also the author of the massive In the Eye of the Sun and the short story collections Aisha and Sandpiper – later amalgamated into I Think of You. A political and cultural commentator with a special interest in Palestine, she writes for various newspapers in the West and the Arab world. Her seminal article, “Under the Gun: A Palestinian Journey,” was originally published in The Guardian and then printed in Soueif’s 2004 collection of essays, Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground. Soueif has also translated Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah from Arabic into English. Born in Egypt, Soueif hás a PhD in Linguistics from the U.K. and is the recipient of three honorary DLitts from British universities. In 2008 she founded the U.K. charity, Engaged Events, which initiated the annual Palestine International Festival of Literature (PalFest). PalFest 08, 09 and 10 took place in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, al-Khalil, Nablus and Jerusalem. Ms Soueif lives in Cairo and London. Her website is

Omar Robert Hamilton is a film-maker and the producer of the Palestine Festival of Literature. He is currently in pre-production on his third short, Though I Know the River is Dry, a crowd-sourced fiction film that will shoot in Palestine this May. His first, When I Stretch Forth Mine Hand, an experimental film made in collaboration with Suheir Hammad’s poetry screened at fifteen international festivals. His second, Maydoum, recently premiered in competition at the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival, and stars Khalid Abdalla (United 93, the Kite Runner). He flew to Cairo to take part in, and document, the Revolution and is now in America for a month working with the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 900 television and radio stations in North America. Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award. Her latest book, Breaking the Sound Barrier, proves the power of independent journalism in the struggle for a better world. She co-authored the first three bestsellers with her brother, journalist David Goodman: Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006) and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004). Goodman has received the American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Award; the Paley Center for Media’s She’s Made It Award; and the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Her reporting on East Timor and Nigeria has won numerous awards, including the George Polk Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous is Senior Producer and correspondent for Democracy Now! He spent three weeks covering the Egyptian revolution on the ground in Cairo. Sharif has reported from Baghdad during the Iraq war, New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Haiti in the days after the January 2010 earthquake.

Great Conversation is series that invites thinkers to choose people from other disciplines who are of intellectual and inspirational interest to them in an attempt to enlarge the scope of our understanding of the production of knowledge. The series is meant to offer a paradigm of comparative experiences, where other forms of knowledge can better enrich consciousness of the self.

Last updated: 2012-03-13 21:26:11

Ahdaf Soueif Addressing a Crowd in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt
Ahdaf Soueif Addressing a Crowd in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt
Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
Photo by Omar Robert Hamilton
Photo by Omar Robert Hamilton

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