On Tuesday evening, the Qatari Authors Forum discussed the novel “Sojanaa Al-Samt” (Prisoners of Silence) by Qatari writer Maitha Sultan, as part of the weekly Writer and Book session moderated by Mr. Saleh Gharib, Program Director at the Forum. The session was played in a live broadcast on the YouTube channel.
Maitha Sultan said the novel seeks to give an in-depth explanation of the stage of grief, and she tried as much as possible to introspect the characters of her novel to make it deep and expressive and make the events encrypted, so she spoke in the language of silent hearts of marginalized people who are unable to speak for themselves. So, she tried through the novel to heal their wounds so that their silence does not turn into madness.
The writer explained that she put a part of her soul in this novel, the events of the novel, and even the expressions used, reflected the state of conflict, clash, and loss that she is experiencing. Names of the characters, she noted, were not chosen by chance. Each character was given a name that was compatible with its nature and the course of events. So, Norsen means moonlight, as she did research before her choice.
She also posed through the novel some philosophical and existential questions, among them when silence is a refuge and when disclosure becomes a crime, as silence may drag its owner into a black hole, subdue its owner, isolate him from the world in his body, and make him confined to confused thoughts. She explained that she sought present an emotional and psychological account through the novel, so she read many books on human development and psychology. She also read many Arabic novels that helped her improve her narrative style to serve her primary purpose of this work as she sought to make this novel more useful and inspiring rather than entertaining. So she wanted the novel to be a lifeboat for those who are lost in their silence to find their internal power and seek light even at the darkest times.
Maitha said that she was influenced by the characters of her novel, especially the heroine of the novel, even after the completion of the novel, who affected her life, so she felt her pain, grief and suffering, and remained that way until the Doha International Book Fair.
It also expressed its interest in breaking the barriers between herself and the readers in order to benefit from their observations that she will be taking into account in her future works, starting with the work she is writing at the present time.
Maitha said that she chose to begin her career with writing the novel despite the difficulty of this literary genre, as she considered it a challenge through which she wanted to prove herself in the field of writing, Maitha also found this genre to be the closest to her pen, style and personality.
She stresses that she deliberately made the place and time vague in the novel to make it close to all readers so that it would be the message of every prisoner of silence, whose word betrayed him and his voice did not help him.
The writer sent a message to the readers not to surrender to silence and to show resolve and insist to overcome all difficultie , she asserts that expressing pent-up feelings is often a useful medication.
It is noteworthy that the third edition of this novel was published recently after it received a great response from readers, whether in the Doha International Book Fair or Kuwait Fair. It was published by Rosa House at the end of 2019.