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A novel love affair with life in the Gulf

A NOVEL based on an invented island in the Gulf in the 1950s and 1970s was launched at Jashanmal Bookstore, Seef Mall yesterday.

The book by British author Tom Stacey, entitled The Man Who Knew Everything, talks about a famous world-roving correspondent, now old and forgotten and self-exiled on an imaginary Gulf island called Khouwair.

The story is about the journalist's love affair that brought him to the island, his passion for his profession and the unbreakable bond with his friend the deposed Emir.

"It's a serious read," Mr Stacey told the GDN at the signing ceremony yesterday.

"I am trying to tell the truth about the human condition and the point is to tell a compelling story about an old man whose life and personal tragedy is redeemed by his loyalty to his craft, which is reporting,"

The author admits the similarities between the island of Khouwair and Bahrain. "The island could hardly be anything else than where Bahrain is and does what Bahrain does," he said.

"I used writer's licence to invent and gave the island a lot more oil resources than Bahrain has and I totally invented the Emir and his family.

"A few things keyed on a Bahrain reality and very much of life as it was lived in two periods that cover the mid-1950s and the 1970s."

There are also parallel's between the book's protagonist Granville Jones and renowned Fleet Street correspondent Ralph Izzard, who spent some of his retirement in Bahrain.

The well-known celebrity is famous for his dispatches from the Arab region, for climbing Mount Everest and writing about his pursuit of the Abominable Snowman.

"There was a figure in Bahrain that triggered my protagonist, his name was Ralph Izzard, he was an old time well known Fleet Street star," explained Mr Stacey, who was a friend of Mr Izzard and visited him in Bahrain.

Much of the book was inspired by Mr Stacey's experience as a journalist for the Sunday Times as chief foreign correspondent.

"The book is based on an experience of covering politics in the Middle East from the early 1950s," he said.

During his career he travelled to more than 120 countries and in 1961 received the Granada Award for Journalism as Foreign Correspondent of the Year.

Tomorrow Mr Stacey will be speaking about writing in the Gulf to students at Bahrain University's English Language and Literature department in Sakhir.

The Man Who Knew Everything, which is priced at BD4.800, is available at Jashanmal's in Bahrain and bookshops throughout the GCC.

becky@gdn.com.bh



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