Qatar National Library (QNL) will launch several new programmes in the coming months starting with the first ‘Community Read’ initiative on November 21 with the award winning novel ‘Bitter Almonds’, a senior official told Gulf Times.
“We are launching the first Community Read programme this month. We are excited about launching our very own and the first QNL podcast series this December. In celebration of Qatar National Day, the first episode will host Sheikh Mohamed bin Ahmad al-Thani, author of Jassim the Leader: Founder of Qatar,’ disclosed, Carol Ann Daul Elhindi, reference services manager, QNL.
“We also have a lineup of exciting topics and interviews and encourage all residents and citizens to stay tuned through our website and social media platforms for further information,” continued, Elhindi.
“The community Read programme has been developed to promote reading and sharing among a very broad audience across all age groups. The reading event on November 21 aims to encourage our members to explore various aspects of the book with the author herself – Lilas Taha. We hope to inspire thought and an exchange of ideas during the discussion,” she explained.
As for the selection of the book , the official noted that the story is relevant to the local communities in Qatar and the book is available in both English and Arabic. “It is a historical fiction centred around the trials of a Palestinian family who become Syrian refugees. We have multiple copies in both languages available in the library,” she said.
The first Community Read event will be a virtual one due to the Covid travel restrictions and the library is planning to host the future reading events in person at QNL.
She stated :“We intend to continue this programme annually. Although our titles will be chosen based on the merit of the writing, the subject matter, its appeal to a wide audience, and the author’s availability, we do welcome suggestions for titles from our patrons as well. We will also continue to choose books that are published in multiple languages to create a more inclusive environment for learning and exchanging knowledge.”
Lilas Taha, the author of ‘Bitter Almonds’ noted that the focus of the discussion will be on the book writing process itself.
“ How I developed the characters and why I chose to chart the way each character dealt with the events of the time. I wanted to paint a human story that readers could connect with on an emotional and social level, keeping the political and historical climate in the background. I hope to answer questions from readers in this event. The Palestinian struggle, history, and culture has been written in many ways using different forms and angles. I hope Bitter Almonds adds to the trove of informative literature and continues the momentum,” Taha, told.
Taha remarked that she started the creative writing journey to inform readers who are not familiar with the circumstance, cultural, historical, and political currents that shape and affect Palestinian refugee lives.
“I always hope that a reader can learn something which causes a positive impact on him or her, no matter how small. I do believe that community reads such as this one by Qatar National Library, brings different people from different backgrounds to share the same experience: reading and focusing on one book. I truly think this is a priceless communication tool and, hopefully, an inspiring process,” maintained, the author who is on the final touches of ‘Found in Thyme’ a sequel for her third novel ‘Lost in Thyme’ which concludes the story of first-generation Palestinian-Americans exploring their roots and trying to stay true to their cultural identity.