Just over a year ago, no Bahraini has published any literature in English.
When I published my novel, QuioxtiQ, last summer, becoming the very first Bahraini to do so, it was, I had hoped, the beginning of something beautiful, the birth of a new cultural and literary movement here in Bahrain and around the Gulf.
Today, two other young and ambitious Bahraini authors have had their books published. Sarah Al Shafei, through Athena Press, published her novel, Yummah. And more recently, a friend and an ex-colleague of mine, Hisham Al Sakin (pictured), published his first book of poetry. All in English!
I've spoke of Hisham before, that's why the name perhaps rings a bell. I met him a couple of days ago over coffee and doughnuts and it was such a pleasure. This is a guy who is passionate and enthusiastic about his work and the whole literary movement, part of - what I call - the next generation of local literature.
(On a regional level, there was also Nimah Ismail Nawwab, of Saudi Arabia, whom I've also met several months ago, and whose book of poem, The Unfurling, has earned wide, international acclaim.)
Hisham's book of poetry, titled ECHOES: From the Dune of Bahrain, was published by a local publisher called Al Maseerah. Hisham told me of his plans and hopes for his book and I was just as excited. I was also given a signed copy from the author and I will post my comments as soon as I have finished reading it.
I truly believe that what all of us are doing is unique and important, coming from the background we come from. And I believe that I speak on behalf of the rest when I say that what we're doing is reaching out a hand to the world, to other cultures, and communicating with them through the language of life... Literature.