The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend

The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend

Publishing House: Arab Scientific Publishers

Publication Year: 2013

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 392

“The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend,” a novel by Ismail Fahd Ismail, poignantly narrates the life of Mansi Ibn Abihi, translating to ‘Forgotten One, Son of his Father.’ Mansi, a bedun or stateless person in Kuwait, faces significant societal challenges due to his lack of citizenship. The story unfolds with Mansi’s release from prison after Kuwait’s liberation, where he begins to document his life for his daughter, Zeinab. Born amidst Kuwait’s occupation, Zeinab has never met Mansi, and his writings aim to bridge this gap.

The narrative explores Mansi’s life as a bedun. He recounts his family’s efforts to gain citizenship, especially his mother’s persistence in safeguarding their documents. The story also highlights his marriage to Ohood, a Kuwaiti woman, and the opposition they face from her brother Saud because of Mansi’s status. Mansi’s tale includes his coerced involvement in the Iraqi ‘people’s army,’ his subsequent escape to the Kuwaiti resistance, and his eventual imprisonment and release.

Nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014, the novel transcends a mere biography. It stands as a powerful testament to human resilience against societal discrimination. Ismail Fahd Ismail infuses the narrative with elements from his life, aspirations, and predictions. The book offers a rich blend of reality and dreams, melding spontaneous novelistic art with life’s depth and complexities.

“The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend” challenges and enriches its readers. It encourages deep engagement with its themes and the discovery of its layered joys. This work marks a significant addition to Arabic literature, inviting readers to immerse in its unique storytelling style.

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