Discussion with Dr. Raghad Al-Suhail

Gallery Majeed session breaks literary norms, fostering direct author-reader engagement

BAGHDAD, January 18 — Gallery Majeed, located in the Dawoodi area of Baghdad, hosted a seminar featuring the writer and novelist Dr. Raghad Al-Suhail who discussed her novel ‘Koro’s ordeal [Mihnat Koro].’ The discussion was moderated by critic Rasha Al-Rabi’i and focused on questions about the literary piece, which recently won the Creativity Award presented by the Ministry of Culture.

In contrast to other literary seminars where the host typically presents a celebratory reading of the guest, the recent Gallery Majeed dialogue was characterized by a spirited exchange between moderator and writer.

Al-Suhail discussed the qualities of one hero in the story, Najib, emphasizing his spontaneity, and symbolically alluding to a nostalgia for the diversity that once enriched Iraq as well as the culture of accepting others.

In her discussion of Najib, Al-Suhail also shared her perspective on contemporary use of religion in political calculations.

In Al-Suhail’s novel, Koro symbolizes humanity, representing a virus that observes superficial phenomena in Iraqi society and the emergence of new parasitic layers.

Al-Suhail emphasized her inclination towards adopting the bizarre in her literary approach. She had previously written a novel about a donkey titled ‘I Loved a Donkey’ [Ahbabto Homara]. She also touched on her experience competing for the Ministry of Culture Award, mentioning, “Winners and participants alike still do not know the names of the judging committees and the artistic criteria by which this work won over others.”

Raghad Al-Suhail spoke to 964media:

What distinguishes Gallery Majeed’s session is its direct engagement with the reader, establishing a vibrant connection between the author and the audience—a crucial element that allows the writer to play the role of an organic intellectual, engaging in direct conversations with people.

Today’s difference lies in the fact that the majority of previous sessions in literary and cultural circles often had elite and literary specialists as attendees in the halls of literary unions or cultural organizations. However, today’s session took a different approach with a direct, spontaneous, and candid dialogue, where active listening was valued.

The session was enriched by unconventional questions that sparked readers’ interest, whether related to the novel or general cultural topics.