Fiction and nonfiction are two types of literature. Literature is the sum total of all books ever published, including comics, pamphlets, the works of Mark Twain, and Shakespearean plays.
The literature has been read for various reasons, most likely for pleasure. Where does literature stand today and what are its prospects in this age of technology and information? Various opinions were offered regarding the future of literature. Some thought that it was doomed to fail, while others saw that there were many opportunities for it to grow.
Among the Omani authors who won the Man Booker International Prize is Jokha Al Harthy, who wrote “Celestial Bodies” which was translated by Marian Booth from Arabic to English. Has this novel helped to open a discussion about literature among the Omani society?
The process of thinking on literature has developed after this novel. The literature and writing discussions and seminars about Omani literature do not see much engagement. What is the reason? The technology has shifted the mind from literature to business and money. As a result, writers do not earn much.
Even though the current generation is more focused on business, the demand for Omani novelists is still high. There are still many good novelists to write to. One of the first Omani novelists is Abdullah Al Tahi, who wrote the novel “Malaeka Al Jabal Al Akhdhar” in 1963. His second novel was “Al Shareh Al Kabir”, in 1981.
Omani women too, played a vital role in writing Arabic novels. Badriya Al Shahi, wrote her novel titled, “Al Tawaf Haiso Al Jamar”, in 1980s.
Compared to other nations, writers, novelists, and poets in Oman and the Arab world as a whole are not appreciated. Novelists, like Chetan Bhagat from India and Mohammed Hanif from Pakistan are very famous. They have their fans and readers, globally. Is it because they write in English and their audiences are the entire world? What is there in their novels?
“That was the time when Indian literature was reaching its peak. That was the era of Meer Taqi Meer, Mirza Ghalib, and other writers. Now with industrialisation, the literature has also lost its appeal”, replied Dilip Kumar in one of the interviews with Ashfaq Hussain in Toronto, Canada, in 1985.
“Fathers think, that, what is there in literature, it can be better if our children study computer science, accounting and other subjects where they at least can earn some money to live with. Literature can be recreated, redecorated and can be built and rebuilt like any buildings, roads and factories”, Dilip Kumar explained it further.
In the same interview, Dilip Kumar, the profound and natural Indian actor said that, “You can import goods and materials, but culture and literature can’t be imported”. Well, of course, the taste of literature has not remained the same due to the industrial civilisation.
“If we talk about Arabic literature, there is no market of it as I observe,” said Abu Owais, an Engineer from Sudan, when I asked him through WhatsApp.
In reality, literature did not recede, it has regained its value. However, the mode of publication has changed, so that it is no longer in the form of hard books, but instead is available online and as e-books.
I don’t believe that, technology, TV or internet have affected the literature, but these elements had promoted the literature. If we take the example of Harry Potter, we can say that, it became more famous due to the technology.
One of the devoted fans of Haruki Murakami said, “Whenever he writes any novel, the same will sell thousands of copies within one week”.