The Redundant Hakawati: Syrian Chaos and WhatsApp Marginalize Traditional Storytellers

AP’s Diaa Hadid reports on a bit of collateral damage generated by the Syrian civil war (Life Upended by War):

For more than 20 years, the Storyteller of Damascus entertained crowds in a centuries-old cafe in the Syrian capital with long, poetic tales of Arab warriors and lovers, acting out scenes with his fists thumping and a sword that he’d swing and slam on a table.

Rashid Hallak was the most famous of the few remaining “hakawatis” in Syria — traditional reciter-performers of old Arab legends.

Now he’s a 70-year-old broken man, his life upturned by Syria’s war.

If you’re interested in these Arab raconteurs, I suggest checking out Rabih Alameddine’s novel, The Hakawati

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