A Debate with Hepta’s Bestselling Author Mohamed Sadek on the depths of societal darkness

A Debate with Hepta’s Bestselling Author Mohamed Sadek on the depths of societal darkness

With a history of novels that have long-generated dispute, Sadek’s recent release “You – أنت”, portrays society’s darkest sides; cheating, sexual harassment, murder and sin. A complexity that left us wondering, is the world that dark? Or does every novel just need a mind-twisting plot?  To solve this riddle, we entered into a heated debate.

In your novels, people criticize incidents that seem illogical to them, for example the scene from “Hepta”, when a man asked a total stranger for a hug and she casually agreed.  

All the novels I have written have a 75% reality factor. As a society, we are okay with watching sexual scenes in foreign movies, but we can’t see that here, even though more happens in our hush-hush society.

“All the novels I have written have a 75% reality factor.”

Would you admit that your perception of love is fairly cheesy compared to reality?

Hepta came out at a time when love wasn’t fully tackled in literature so it was something new. But after it hit its peak, saturation occurred and people started making jokes about it.

Mohamed Sadek 2

“No woman comes out and says “I cheated on my husband”, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.”

By going against them, “You – أنت ” reminds us of our traditions and norms. Flipping through the pages all we think is: this isn’t common, that doesn’t happen.

To comfort ourselves, we assume that those crossing red lines are a minority, the truth is, they are the majority that no one wants to admit exists. No woman comes out and says “I cheated on my husband”, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. I want her to admit to it and question her motives. I am not reminding people of something they don’t have, I am asking them to accept their darkness.

Out of 8 main characters, 8 committed adultery, 6 accepted full nudity in front of a total stranger, 2 engaged in sexual harassment, 1 almost killed, and 1 engaged in homosexual intercourse. How can your readers relate to this? What do you think you’ve accomplished here?

Declaring your evil side helps address it. We must write about it and admit it to be able to improve. I received a lot of messages from readers admitting to being cheaters; they saw themselves in the novel, and felt how wrong it is. They are even trying to back down now, especially when they felt that the novel doesn’t judge them. Alaa, the novel’s character that commits adultery, was never described as a whore. When you address people’s darkness through acceptance, they start to show change.

You have talked a lot about people’s darkness, what is your darkness…

I can be extremely selfish.

Mohamed Sadek - Photo Credit: Shahd Tarek
Mohamed Sadek – Photo Credit: Shahd Tarek

“Most failed marriages in Egypt reach a dead-end because we believe that sold goods can’t be returned or exchanged. God’s mercy on us allows the freedom of divorce with complete guarantee to women’s rights, society however makes it hard on people.”

Hazem (The main Character) and Dima (his girlfriend) are a writer and a photographer. You and your wife are also a writer and a photographer. The first is an unusual couple, they live together without marriage and she lets him control all her decisions; the second is a traditional Egyptian couple. Why choose to write about the first and not the second? The difference between the first and the second couple is the gap between your novel and reality.

*laughs* You don’t know the details of our marriage. The idea of married couples being traditional is one of the most wrong beliefs in our society. Abroad, people live together before making any commitments, here we demonstrate our love through marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we have fallen into the routine trap. People master hiding their true feelings, but most failed marriages in Egypt reach a dead-end because we believe that sold goods can’t be returned or exchanged. God’s mercy on us allows the freedom of divorce with complete guarantee to women’s rights, society however makes it hard on people.

What would motivate 7 different characters to cross the same lines; The shy, the daredevil, the kind…etc.?

It is the false perception that one is compelled with no control over his/her decisions. People cross lines when they are told they won’t be held responsible.

Are Egyptians as religious as they lead on?

No, because we are delinquent towards our religion. We want to be perceived as religious people and we focus on how we are framed. That is why you’ll find people asking about God’s provisions on clothes or nail polish. Everything related to appearance will be something previewed religiously but because no one sees what is on the inside, sometimes you won’t find any sign of religion.

Novels can create expectations that readers won’t find in real life. Can a novelist ruin someone’s life? Have you?

After Hepta’s release, some people sent me messages saying that they have separated from their partners when they realized that their relationships weren’t headed in the right direction. But this effect isn’t necessarily negative.

True or False:
(We extracted statements from the Novel “You – أنت”. Apply them to yourself, either agree or completely disagree with them)

  • The eastern man fears a smart woman more than a free one. He can suppress freedom, but intelligence will only allow her to see his pettiness.

True. But I don’t consider myself an eastern man.

  • Men don’t feel jealous about their women, they are only scared to be put in comparison with other men because they aren’t confident enough.

Very true.

Follow Mohamed Sadek on his Facebook Page and check out the novel “You – أنت” ‘s trailer

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