Out of Facebook and onto paper
‘The smartest guy on Facebook,’ a collection of poems by Abud Said about his life in war-torn Syria, has just hit the bookstores.
São Paulo – Running counter to modern publishing industry trends, a set of poems that Syria’s Abud Said uploaded to his Facebook profile has made its way into paper and became a book. “The smartest guy on Facebook” (in Portuguese, O cara mais esperto do Facebook) is out now from Editora 34 and finds the author portraying everything from day-to-day things to the tragic challenges posed by war in Syria. The book was originally released by Berlin’s Microtext; and the newly released Portuguese version was translated directly from Arabic by Pedro Martins Criado. The official release in Brazil happened at the Paraty International Literary Festival, of which Said was a guest.
Said was born in the village of Manbij, in the province of Aleppo. He lived in Manbij until 2012, when the bombings forced him to move with his mother and seven brothers to Aleppo. Said started going to Economics school, but classes were suspended. He did work as a blacksmith and then spent three years working at a manufacturing plant in Lebanon. In 2009, he started publishing his poems on Facebook every day. Below each of the poems in the book is the number of “likes” they got.
Apart from the simple things in life, dreams, women and war, Said’s mother is a recurring figure in the texts. He used to live with her in Syria until the book was released, leading to his getting political asylum in Germany. Said told ANBA that he wrote about his mother simply because they lived together. She is now living in Turkey.
Facebook was the way the author found to discuss his daily life without having any literary commitment in his poems. “There is no reason [for him to have written the poems], I didn’t know that I was writing literature, i was just writing about my life and daily things, then people started telling me that ‘you’re a writer and this is literature,’” he said in an interview that was also made on Facebook, a means of communication that allowed him to ventilate his thoughts. He chose Facebook as his outlet because it’s a “free space, there is no free space in the real life.”
His most popular poems include: “She said: I took a chance travelling thousands of miles; how about you, what have you done?/ I said: I mentioned you in a post” and “Confession 41: I’ve never seen a woman in a bikini in my life.”
His irony doesn’t spare the fighting: “Every time they say ‘armed groups’/a collective laughter echoes around in the cemetery.” The author’s mother gets mentioned in several poems. “Even my mother introduces me to guests from the neighborhood and relatives: this is my little son Abud: the smartest guy on Facebook.”
Other verses evidence both his love of women and his denouncement of war: “On the telephone/just when she decided to tell me what she was wearing/the plane dropped the bomb.” Said writes columns for the German website Vice and the German daily TAZ. He has another book out, a memoir of his childhood in Syria.
Title: O cara mais esperto do Facebook (The smartest guy on Facebook)
Author: Abud Said
Translated into Portuguese by Pedro Martins Criado afterword by Sandra Hetzel
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum