Acclaimed author Amal Ghandour spoke with the dean of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), Dr Safwan Masri, in a discussion about her recently published memoir, "This Arab Life: A Generation’s Journey into Silence."
Ghandour’s memoir is a poignant mix of personal narrative and social commentary that provides an unfiltered glimpse into the life of Arab elites shaped against the backdrop of political and social upheaval and economic corruption.
Beginning in Amman in the Summer of 1973, and concluding in Beirut in December 2021, the Lebanese-Jordanian author delves into the rich tapestry of her past, recounting her formative years surrounded by the instability that characterised the Middle East, while also examining the unique way in which her contemporaries navigated and responded to such turbulent times.
The book, she said, “invites questions, it is a healthy nostalgia, because it asks what was your role.”
Dean Masri said: "Amal Ghandour’s book, This Arab Life: A Generation’s Journey into Silence, is a testimony to her courageous, introspective stance probing the most complex and painful aspects of the current Arab reality. She speaks for a disillusioned, silent generation, but the strength and clarity of her voice brings hope to the next generation as she marks the starting point for a much-needed change."
The memoir also offers a critical view of complicity in the failures that led to the Arab Spring revolts. Ghandour said: “The message was constant: forget about politics and the larger story, there is nothing there, focus on yourself, focus on your wellbeing. The word politics itself had no meaning. We were the first generation of pragmatists in the modern Arab world.”
Yet despite the despair and apathy the book details, it offers hope and a way forward by creating bridges with the next generation of Arab youth.
At a discussion with the GU-Q community earlier in the week, Ghandour advised students to “Never feel like there is not much you can contribute as an adult. Do not go silent.”
Ghandour’s career spans over three decades in research, communication, and community development.
She holds an MS in International Policy from Stanford University and a BSFS from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.