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Cynical writers make you laugh and cry.

By Ibtisam Awadat CRITICISM, PARADOX and irony characterize the writings of both columnists Ahmad Hasan Al-Zu'bi and Yousef Ghishan who signed their new books at the Jordan Press Association (JPA) headquarters last week. Also in attendance were Jordan Press Association (JPA) President Abdel Wahab Zgheilat and Responsible Editor-in-Chief of ad-Dustour daily newspaper, Dr Nabil Al-Sharif. Ghishan's "Limatha Tarakta Al Himar Wahidan" (Why Did You Leave the Donkey Alone?) and Zu'bi's 192-page "Al-Mam'out" (which literally refers to a chicken with plucked-out feathers; an indication of powerlessness) criticize political, economic and social aspects. The two writers present poverty, unemployment and price hikes in their own cynical styles. Crowds were keen to attend and listen carefully to every word the two satirical writers said on the occasion of signing their books. Their black irony was mixed with laughter, smiles but eventually after receiving their messages, with deep thinking and sadness. Ghishan, a leading Jordanian journalist and daily columnist at ad-Dustour newspaper, has created himself as a rebel in the Jordanian press scene; a true defender of freedoms and democracy, he was imprisoned for five months and released after the launch of democratic life in the Kingdom back in 1989. "The writer has to be a revolutionary in his writings to reach the level and category of satirical writing," Ghishan explains. For him, such writing is not one of the literature genres; rather "it's more of a revolution's aspect". Ghishan started writing back in 1982 and didn't author his sardonic columns until 1992. "Ironic writing has become part of my psychological structure. Unlike others, I am proud to be categorized as a cynical writer," he said. In one of his rebellious columns, he used the word "corruption" 400 times as a response to one of the information ministers who declared then that he hated such a word. Although Ghishan believes that a writer can't change the world, yet, he feels he still has a small but a significant role to play as long as the political parties in the country are still far from representing the people and defending their needs. Ghishan's writings depend on irony, paradox and pun which led to 15 police investigations and three imprisonments. Ghishan has previous books entitled "Ya Madaris Ya Madaris", "Burj al-Tays" and "Mu'akhirat Ibn Khaldoun", among others. On the other hand, Zu'bi, a daily columnist at al-Rai newspaper, has gained much fame after coming back home from the Gulf where he resided for about six years. His sarcastic writings have tremendously attracted the attention of Jordanians for the simple and indirect criticism of the political, economic and social scene in the country. Dr Al-Sharif believes that people should take note of both writers' every word. "Beware of them," he warned in a friendly tone. "You might think that they are trying to make you laugh; however, when you turn their words over in your mind, you soon realize the bitterness and suffering they are trying to expose in a very subtle form," he pointed out. Zgheilat admits to enjoying reading Zu'bi's column. "I wait impatiently to read his daily column and admire his skills. However, we should be aware that his words aren't as innocent as they might initially seem since he has great skill in hiding what he wants to criticize between the lines," Zgheilat said. "I always have two choices: Either to approve his column after deleting some words and leave it to the intelligence of the readers to figure it out or to stop it altogether," revealed Zgheilat, who is also Chief Editor of al-Rai. The two writers were deeply touched with the passing away of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. "In honor of poetry's spirit Mahmoud Darwish, poet and martyr, I dedicate this beautiful evening. You are deep in our hearts Darwish, you are deep in the heart of Palestine," Zu'bi said. Meanwhile, Ghishan, whose book's title "Why Did You Leave the Donkey Alone?" leans on Darwish's "Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?", griefed, "I would have never done this [choosing a similar title] if I would have known that he would be dead." In addition to his writings in the print media, Zu'bi writes scripts for television and mainly to Jordanian actor Mousa Hijazin who is known for his TV character "Som'a"; Zu'bi is currently writing a theatrical play to be launched next month, which is based on this character. "Al-Mam'out" is Zu'bi's second book after his first "Sawaleef" which he signed back in 1996.

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Aug 25, 2008
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