A Hole to the Sky

A Hole to the Sky

Publishing House: Rashm,Masciliani

Publication Year: 2020

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 309

The novel “A Hole to the Sky” spans 12 chapters and approximately 309 pages, earning a spot on the longlist of the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known as the “Arabic Booker Prize.” Al-Ayaf employs an omniscient narrative style, crafting intriguing and profound chapter titles that reveal little but invite multiple interpretations: “Departure and Arrival, Kaaba of the Womb, Searching for a Cloud, Strangers in a Cemetery, Resurrection, Bullet that Doesn’t Touch the Ground, Stillborn Question, Rain, In Darkness, Colors Equalize, Bird in Hand, Sternness.”

The narrative unfolds in “Majhara,” the abode of myths and the graveyard of dreams. Here, the legends of ancient times, supernatural events, jinn tales, visions of the righteous, and stories of newcomers converge in this mysterious place. Majhara resembles the belly of a whale, swallowing people and releasing them only as memories or symbols of dreams. In this realm, humans appear as wolves at times, consuming their brethren’s flesh, and at other times, they manifest as vulnerable children being cared for.

Majhara embeds itself in the collective consciousness, where humanity grapples with time in a pit from which one can only emerge to return. This pit reveals astonishing truths about life and death. “Majhara” is but a miniature representation of the Earth, where humans are born and return in an endless cycle between two wombs: the womb of beginning and the womb of the end. Grandfather “Salem Al-Jabr” departs this world, yet the universe rejects endings, giving birth to his grandson “Ghaith” in the same grave in a mysterious moment where the boundaries of death and life intersect in one hole: “A Hole to the Sky.” In this place, “Salem” is not safe, and “Ghaith” is not a downpour.

The novel is a multigenerational narrative, featuring dozens of diverse characters integral to the narrative’s development, and events continuously unfold. These characters are the salt of the earth, the essential element in a displaced environment. From them emanate all the desert stories, lending credibility to the myths and becoming part of their identity. Despite the strong presence of characters, their existence remains transient. They quickly succumb after a rich life, swallowed by the enigmatic village, with no absolute hero or long-lived character except the place itself, enduring, witnessing the tales of its generations. Despite the sudden death that dominates the fate of all characters except Fatoum, their impact on you as a reader remains central, not fading with their departure.

Read More About Abdullah Al-Ayaf

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