Wandering Beings

Publishing House: Dar Al-Saqi

Publication Year: 2022

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 240

The novel “Wandering Beings” by Saudi novelist Moqbul Al-Alawi, released in 2022, made it to the long list for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2023. The novel tells the story of a young man who finds himself embroiled in an unexpected adventure after assuming his duties as a new employee at the public library.

Before this, he had spent two years working as a teacher in a school in the coastal town of “Al Qunfudhah” in Saudi Arabia, overlooking the Red Sea. As a library employee and a struggling writer trying to finish his novel, he sets out with his colleague Mu’adh on a mission to visit an old and abandoned mill in the town, to document it as a historical artifact, based on his job as the director of antiquities in the province.

During the visit, the narrator discovers a hidden treasure inside a damp wall, consisting of a wooden box adorned with brass. The treasure, consisting of a pile of yellowed papers affected by moisture and the passage of time, reveals another story, the tale of the castle guard or the mill guard from a wealthy family in Mecca.

Tragic Fates and Historical Realities: A Tale of Loss and Loneliness

The guard pledged to rescue his sister “Najma,” who was kidnapped by the Italian admiral during his attack on the town and the destruction of Turkish ships. However, fate led him to Anatolia in search of her, only to end up murdered in a hotel called the Palace. The tragic news led to the death of his elderly father, and grieving for his lost youth.

The novel is based on historical events that occurred about a hundred and fifty years ago, during the Ottoman rule of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, when Italian naval forces attacked in support of the Idrisi ruler of Sabya and its surroundings, managing to destroy all the anchored ships in the port of Al Qunfudhah.

Historical Remnants and Narratives of Loss: Unraveling Fate in Al-Qunfudhah

The evidence of this bombardment still exists in some visible parts of a sunken ship located on the southern corniche of the city, behind the building of the Department of Education, where the narrator moved to follow its trail, only to find himself immersed in the story of the young man Hadi, who wrote his story in a historical manuscript buried in a wall in this ancient building.

The novel blends reality with history in a theme that combines the fate of the father, son, and daughter, beings of the void, as the narrator calls them, who are lonely and far from their families and homes.

The grieving father, mourning his kidnapped daughter and his son who died as a stranger, chose exile on an island in the Red Sea. The son, who had traveled to find his sister, met his death as a murder victim, alone in a distant land, and received a burial in a cemetery for strangers. A vile admiral kidnapped the daughter, killing her family members in cold blood, and she ultimately met her death, murdered and alone, during the shelling of a ship near the shores of Al Qunfudhah city.

Read More About Maqbul Al-Alawi

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