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The Open Door

Yehouda Shenav-Shaharabani On:

The Open Door by Abd al Rahman Munif

The text you see before you is a typical example of Abdul Rahman Munif’s monumental literary achievement. Munif who, alongside Naguib Mahfouz, was considered the architect of modern Arab literature, wrote both essays and literary pieces, placing a critical mirror in the face of the depraved Arab regimes and the exploitive and corrupt Western colonialism. After publishing his monumental novel Cities of Salt he was declared a persona non grata in Saudi Arabia. This may be why this delicate and sensitive story won me over. This is an almost universal story that stirred the sweet and sad memories I have of my grandmother Farhaa Moalem may she rest in peace, who died in the nineties when she herself was in her nineties. This is not only because Munif was, towards the end of his life, an Iraqi who spoke her Arabic; not only because my grandmother Farhaa had become very old and her steps became measured; and not only because she sat and waited with endless patience for our rare visits. Her door was also open. She too said the same things. From her I learnt that I wasn’t secular, that I was also Arabic and that my politics would always identify with the weak. She also spoke of those who grow up and then leave, or those who travel to study and never return. Later, I too went to say goodbye to her before going away.  

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