22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Haytham El-Wardany

Haytham El-Wardany was born in Cairo in 1972. After publishing a short story collection with five other authors in 1995, his short story collection »The Unfinished Literature Club«, which won the Egyptian Sawiris Cultural Award, was published in 2003. »Waking Dream« earned him the Cairo International Book Fair Prize in 2012. He contributed the handbook of essays »How to Disappear« to the »Kafyfa ta« [tr: How To] series, edited by Maha Maamoun and Ala Younis, in 2013. The volume contains a series of exercises that focus on the function of listening – because while speakers draw all the attention to themselves, listeners can fade into the background. It explores not only how to disappear, but also how to reappear, listen to your inner voice, change your frequency, or join a group. The appendix, under keywords such as »inner peace« or »ecstasy«, deals with some of the sounds that occur in bourgeois households or, on the contrary, are banned from them.

»The Book of Sleep«, which he had been working on since spring of 2013, when protests against the then President Mohammed Mursi were growing louder in Egypt, was published in 2017. The book deals with the questions of what sleep is, how the seemingly unproductive state of sleeping can be thought of as an action, and who we ourselves are while we sleep. El-Wardany uses resources and forms of poetry, philosophical reflection, political analysis, and classical storytelling to create a fragmentary text that circles but does not constrict its subject. »My concern was not to create a literary product in the conventional sense, but to try and use literature as a methodology for thinking«, he explains. His most recent publication, the short story collection »Irreparable« [2020], earned El-Wardany the Cairo International Book Fair Prize once again.

In addition to writing, he also appears as a translator and has translated texts by Walter Benjamin, among others, into Arabic. He has lived in Berlin since 1999 and has organized writing workshops in Arabic for writers who have fled to Berlin to escape the consequences of the failed revolutions in their home countries.

Date: 2022