The Arabian Stories Initiative

Eloise Wales, Content Manager, The Literary Platform

Launched in 2009, Kickstarter have spearheaded the disruption movement and championed publishing in more ways than we can count. In 2013, publishing project specialist Niina Pollari wrote up eight of the best crowd-funded publishing projects for The Literary Platform. And in 2014 on The Literary Platform, Madiha Waris Qureshi and Amita Rao looked at cracking the code in literary crowd-funding via Indiegogo. Later that year, The Bookseller’s Charlotte Eyre, reported that Publishing projects were the third most common projects funded on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter continues to help literary ideas go from concept to reality. This month, the Arabian Stories project founded by Rita Tapia Oregui, has already featured in Kickstarter’s New & Noteworthy section and has been one of their Featured Projects in Publishing. Arabian Stories is a project aimed at contextualizing the way Arabic speakers grasp their reality.

Rita said, “I believe the developments that have recently taken place in the world (i.e., the situation in the Arab world, the surge of terrorism, the refugee crisis, and the growing popularity of more extreme right-winged political parties) have proven a crying need for such an initiative.

“I am of the opinion that the problem posed by the plague of religious extremists who are currently decimating the Arab world and terrorizing the rest of the globe is rooted in the understanding of reality advanced by the Arabic language.

“Don’t get me wrong. I think Arabic is a very smartly composed language. However, the purpose it served when it was born—to build a society in a very hostile environment where no misunderstandings could be afforded—has shaped it in such a way that it doesn’t lend itself to express idiosyncratic or unconventional appreciations of reality. This becomes an issue when the society the language has helped create is exposed to other societies with very different approaches to reality.”

It is, for this reason, that Rita founded the Arabian Stories project so Arabic, English, and Spanish speakers can reflect on their own languages and how they enable us to and prevent us from processing the reality around us.

Last year, Arabian Stories hosted an online literary contest, “One Thousand Nights and Awakening.” Arab authors had to submit a story written in Modern Standard Arabic that was thematically related to a specific location in the Arab world. A given story’s length had to range from 300 to 500 words.

The short stories were all translated into English and Spanish and published on the project’s website. There are plans for a second edition of the project’s literary contest, “Two Thousand Nights and Awakening.” However, funds are needed to launch this project.

Arabian Stories’ Kickstarter campaign will not only help fund this second literary contest, but also enable the team to publish two books in English and another two in Spanish in both eBook and paper formats. Each of the books will feature a selection of thirty short stories submitted to each literary contest: “One Thousand Nights and Awakening” and “Two Thousand Nights and Awakening.” The best five short stories from each literary contest in their original and translated versions will also be recorded.

The contest’s first-prize winner will be awarded €1000, and the second-prize winner will receive €500. Only 30% of all submitted stories from the second literary context will be published, with the stipulation that a minimum of thirty stories will be chosen regardless of the number of entries. The stories that are published on the website will overall be more representative of the Arab population inside the very diverse Arab world.

When pledging via the Kickstarter page, there are various incentives, including an eBook version of one of the titles and the unique opportunity to become donor-jurors for the “Two Thousand Nights and Awakening” literary contest.

Rita said, “The world at large won’t get fixed in one fell swoop, no matter how much power you have when you make your attempt. Real change takes time and mental space. People have to shift their affections from the contexts that gave birth to them to the settings where their futures await.

“If you believe that the Arab population should be encouraged to set some time aside to mourn their losses so that they can then choose to be defined by something other than what they owe to the past, check out our Kickstarter campaign and visit our website: arabianstories.com. You can help us make this world a better place for everyone, step by step.”

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