This post is also available in: العربية
Quite often when a novel proves to be a big hit with readers it then gets snapped up by the film industry who hope to emulate the publishing success onto the big screen but not every book can become a box office hit and very few manage it. We have put together a list of seven Arabic novels that proved to have a huge impact on the world of literature and film industry.
The Nightingale Prayers – Taha Hussein
The Nightingale Prayers, by the Egyptian writer and intellect Taha Hussein published in 1934 and was turned into film in 1959 starring Faten Hamama, Ahmed Mazher, Zahrt Al Oala, and directed by Henry Barkat. It tackles the issue of honour killing and poses the question of who is the victim and aggressor. Its an essential read and a must watch film that will keep you gripped, just don’t expect a happy ending.
I Am Leaving – Yousif Al Seba’ee
Another classic novel that was turned into a film, I Am Leaving, written by Yousif Al Seba’ee in 1950 and the film version was directed by Ezz Eldine Zulfekar and premiered in January of 1955. A love story marred by social class, betrayal and greed with tragic consequences. There are few films that can bring a book to life and do it justice and I Am Leaving – Eni Rahela certainly fits the bill and one of the best. Starring the egyptian Madeha Yousry and Emad Hamdy, the film follows the love story between the two cousins who are soon separated by the prejudice and greed of her father. Again it is not a happy ever after ending but a powerful one that will stay in your memory for years.
The Empty Pillow – Ihsan Abdel Quddous
The Empty Pillow is one of Ihsan Abdel Quddous most loved novels. Adel Quddous is probably the most influential author on both the big screen and silver screen as he had more novels turned into films and TV series than any other author. The book was written and produced as a film in the same year of 1957 and directed by Salah Abu Seif, the story explores the myth of one’s first love and its impact on an individual. The film lead stars were Abdel Halim Hafiz, Lobna Abdel Aziz, and Ahmed Ramzy. The story has an unusual end, though it is a fairly happy one but it does not reunite the lovers.
The Thief and The Dogs – Naguib Mahfouz
Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian novelist and first Arab Nobel laureate is another author who had a vast number of novels adapted into the big screen. The Thief and The Dog is one of Mahfouz most famous novel that he wrote in 1962 and is based on a true story and in 1962 got made into a film, directed by Kamal El-Sheikh and starring Shadia, Shukry Sarhan and Kamal Shenawi. The story revolves around Mahmoud Amin who is imprisoned for four years and upon his release he discovers that he was betrayed by the closest people to him and so begins a journey of revenge on everyone has wronged him.
Hepta – Muhammad Sadek
Muhammad Sadek’s novel was published in 2014 and was soon turned into a film in 2016 directed by Hadi El Bagoury which proved a big success especially amongst the younger generation. The novel explores the different stages of love and its various type. The film hosted a galaxy of young stars such as Amro Youssef, Jamela Awad, Ahmed Malik and Yasmine El Raeis.
Men In The Sun – Ghassan Kanafani
Men in the Sun is one of the most famous novels of the Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani, and it follows on from the 1948 ‘Nakba’ through three characters from different generation and background but all share the same aim; reaching Kuwait for a better life. The novel was made into a film but with a different title and was listed amongst top 100 political films in the world.
Gate Of The Sun – Elias Khoury
Gate of the Sun by the Lebanese author Elias Khoury follows the life of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon since the 1948 Palestinian exodus, which also addresses the ideas of memory, truth, and storytelling. The book was adapted as a film of the same name by Egyptian director Yousry. Nasrallah in 2002.