Friday, November 28, 2008
philip arditti's radio 4 reading of syrian writer's story
The voice reading the BBC Radio 4 afternoon story today with a marked Arab accent sounded oddly familiar. It turned out to be that of Italian-born actor Philip Arditti [pictured], who played Saddam's son Uday to such chilling effect in the BBC serial House of Saddam a few months back. The story he read with gentle restraint was by a Syrian, Hassan Bahri, who lives in London and is part of Exiled Writers Ink. Bahri was born in Syria in 1955 and graduated as an engineer in Ukraine, then part of the USSR. He was imprisoned in Syria for more than eight years as a result of his political activities, and has been in the UK since 2001. Bahri's story Bread Heap and a Dreamer depicts a political prisoner surrounded by torture and "parties" (interrogation sessions) who draws strength from the words and images scratched on the walls by the previous occupants of his filthy cell 14 and manages to overcome his isolation. the story can be read here. The reading was part of Points of Entry, a series of readings over the past week intended to reflect the experiences of immigrants who have sought sanctuary in Britain over the past 60 years. Bahri was in good company: the other authors whose stories were read were South African novelist Gillian Slovo, 2004 Caine Prize winner Brian Chikwava from Zimbabwe, prolific Pakistan-born author Ziauddin Sardar and Hungarian poet and translator George Szirtes.