Abdul Rahman Mounif
Novelist and political activist who highlighted the Arab plight.
Mounif, one of the most gifted Arab novelists of the 20th century, succeeded in transforming the literary landscape of the Arab world by making his novel central to its cultural and political concern. In his words, 'the mission of literature is to increase awareness and receptiveness in an attempt to create cases for renaissance and revival.' His particular target was injustice.
Mounif started writing fiction when he was 40. It was his five-part novel 'Cities of Salt' (1984-89) - based on the transformation of the Arab peninsula from ancient Bedouin homeland to a hybrid tribal kleptocracy floating on oil - that established his reputation in the Arab world. In the novel he depicted the surprise, fear, uneasiness and tension that gripped Saudi Arabia after the discovery of oil and his portraits of the country's rulers were thinly disguised, causing a great deal of merriment in the Arab streets and odd palaces. The central theme of his writing being that 'Arabs have been the victims of their rulers and the foreigners.'
Mounif like the bulk of his generation was shattered by the Palestinian catastrophe of becoming refugees in 1948 and that led him to become a staunch Arab nationalist. For his political opposition to the royal family he was stripped of his Saudi nationality in 1963 and fled to Baghdad. In 1970s after resigning from the membership of the Baath Party in Baghdad he moved to Damascus.
Abdul Rahman Mounif was born in Amman to a Saudi trader and an Iraqi mother. He enriched the culture of the whole Arab world in his novels. He was a strong and independent-minded intellectual who inspired younger writers in the Arab world.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan