Exciting news: Ebra wa Kushtuban is the first audio book launched by Safahat Sowt


The stars were aligned. When Lana Nasser approached me more than a year ago, telling me that she has set up her own studio and is looking to do more voice over projects, I knew I want her voice on Ebra wa Kushtuban. I met Lana 12 years ago. She was teaching acting in a special workshop at the Royal Film Commission. I wanted to learn how to act. I dreaded standing in front of a camera for casting but I gathered my courage and showed up. Lana was there, observing and directing the candidates. I think they gave me few lines to act, but then she asked me to choose a character and come up with a monologue. I don’t know why I chose Salma from The Bride of Amman. I spoke in her voice. I talked about her struggle. I felt her pain. My voice became weaker and I felt tears in my eyes. I was accepted in the workshop!

For few months Lana trained us on the principles of acting. She was always prepared. Have all the knowledge needed. And she was very patient, asking us to play the scene over and over again. She sits in silence observing till the act ends. Then she gives the right helpful remarks. During those days I became fond of the way she pulls herself. The way she speaks. Her confidence and deep mesmerizing voice. Some years later, I saw her performing, a full play, all by herself, in a corner of the Swedish Ambassador house inn Amman. And I was impressed. The voice, the narration, the acting, the plot, the moves. Lana is a TALENT. And, on another time, I was honored to be on stage next to her and another 5 beautiful ladies to narrate the stories of 7 women in a Swedish play called SEVEN.

So I asked her if she’d like to narrate Ebra wa Kushtuban, and I was thrilled that she accepted. She sent me a sample, and I loved it. As she went on recording her voice, I came to feel that she gave a life to those characters in the book. I knew that this will be a different experience. It is not your typical audio book, but more of a radio drama. A full show that will keeps you gripped, enjoying the voice as much as the story.

While Lana finished adding her voice to the chapters, I had an eye of Sowt‘s audio productions. It is a Jordanian platform that has been growing, producing quality audio content that everyone loves. I admire what they did. They have approached me before for a potential collaboration on a special podcast but that didn’t happen. I emailed Ramsey George Tesdell, CEO of Sowt, and pitched the idea to him. He replied instantly and told me that he had the idea of starting an audio books channel for Sowt in mind, and that he thinks that Ebra wa Kushtuban can be the perfect start. I was super happy.

I knew that Sowt will make sure the production will be of top quality. And they did. We have been working with them to perfecting it. They asked me to record the writer’s note in my voice. An experience that I enjoyed. They perfected the files and created a beautiful branding, and launched the book two days ago with professionally planned marketing campaign.

I can’t tell you how happy I am about the whole experience. We have a work that is the product of collaboration of Jordanian top talents. I know you will enjoy listening to it and can’t wait for your feedback. Hopefully more of this will come your way in the future.

You can subscribe to Safahat Sowt using this link.

ELF session: A Needle and a Thimble [photos]


It was a wonderful session yesterday at the Emirates Literature Festival. I was super happy to see friends, family members, and readers filling the room. My friend, Hani Yakan, did a great job in moderating the session. He introduced me eloquently and was right on point with his question which he masterfully prepared to take us through the one hour session.

He started off with the most important question that lies at the core of the idea of the book and subsequently the discussion of the session. What is gender? Whats the difference between gender as a social construct and sex as a biological one? And from there we moved to talk about the concept of the book. How, building on the complexity of gender and related issues, and its definition of being a set of attributes built over a single biological attribute (sex in our world), I decided to examine it and project it on another world where the human awareness develops differently, to divide gender per height, rather than sex.

That’s the core of the story of “A Needle and a Thimble“, a concept which allowed me to explore gender getting constructed differently. A world where two gender exist; tall people and short ones. A world where gender roles are strict, and attributes are divided per the hight of a person.

After explaining the concept and part of the storyline that takes us through a love relationship between the narrator and middle height (socially rejected) Tawalan. A relationship that follows how the narrator’s gender awareness develops as the storylines unfolds. Hani moved on to ask about important questions related to how I managed to create this parallel world. He asked about the language and the importance of language in developing our gender awareness. Knowing that Arabic language, which I wrote the book in, is a gendered language at its core. He also asked about the solution to the gender issue. Does it lie in a needed revolution, similar to the failed one I presented in the book? or it is an evolutionary process? He also highlighted the gender neutral language forms that started emerging in different languages around the world, asking if that is a natural progression or a forced one?

From there he moved on to asking me about my choice of narrating through women characters in my books, echoing floating criticisms of having male authors using female voices. And here we had the chance to discuss my other books, Laila and The Bride of Amman, which revolve around similar issues we deep sensitive in our society. Some deem them provocative, but that’s the issue of gender now, gender equality, body rights and sexual freedoms are hot topics, and the fight for a more tolerant and just society is a daily struggle.

One of the important questions he asked me is the difference between equality and justice. A discourse that opponents of women rights have been using a lot lately, emphasizing that women are different than men, and consequently it is more important to talk justice than equality. A very critical point here, which I answered from the concept of the book itself, we don’t set different laws for people from different height, do we? when it is clear that in certain situations, people of very tall or very short stature need special attention. In law, people are equal in general, and that what should be applied.

When we opened the questions to the audience, I was happy to hear good feedback from those who read the book. Two sisters said that the book made them realize how silly is the gender issue, when they have been taking it seriously for a long time. Others asked about the impact of creative work in shaping our reality. Which is better starting from reality in creating fictional words, or starting from fictional constructed worlds into shaping ours?

It was an interesting session, a nice discussion, and beautiful audience. Ended with a book signing and a nice dinner with my dear friends who came for support.