Handley Regional Library System, in partnership with the Virginia Center for Literary Arts (VCLA), features their next author talk on Saturday, January 12th at 2PM featuring Ahmed Naji, author of Using Life. Naji, an Egyptian novelist, will read excerpts from his work and discuss the remarkable events that led to his imprisonment (on charges of “violating public modesty” that were ultimately overturned). VCLA’s Founding Director Sean Murphy will join the author to discuss his ordeal, and how his experiences (before, during, after) his imprisonment have shaped his writing. Books will be available for purchase through the Winchester Book Gallery. The program is free and open the public and is sponsored by the Friends of the Handley Regional Library.
About Using Life
Upon its initial release in Arabic in the fall of 2014, Using Life received acclaim in Egypt and the wider Arab world. But in 2016, Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison after a reader complained that an excerpt published in a literary journal harmed public morality. His imprisonment marks the first time in modern Egypt that an author has been jailed for a work of literature. Writers and literary organizations around the world rallied to support Naji, and he was released in December 2016. His original conviction was overturned in May 2017.
Set in modern-day Cairo, Using Life follows a young filmmaker, Bassam Ahmed. Bahgat, after a secret society hires him to create a series of documentary films about the urban planning and architecture of Cairo. The plot in which Bassam finds himself ensnared unfolds in the novel’s unique mix of text and black-and-white illustrations.
For more information on how Handley Regional Library System serves the surrounding communities, visit the library website at www.handleyregional.org or call Barbara Dickinson at 540.662.9041, extension 31.