It wasn’t an ordinary cultural evening at the Diwan bookstore; people came in large numbers, and the shop has hardly been that crowded before. It was the 27 December, and the day Essam Youssef launched the hard back copy of his novel "¼ Gram."
People from all walks of life were there, writers, critics, actors, and of course the wide base of Essam Youssef’s fans. “The average age of female smokers is now 9 years old, and the average female drug user 11 years old,” said Youssef when asked about the progression of drug abuse since the 1980s. Raising awareness and promoting Narcotic Anonymous (NA) were the main topics addressed during the discussion. “I attended the last meeting of the NDP and I was very happy to hear that the party is taking special interest in the activities of NA,” added Youssef.
“The thought of translating an entire book always scared me, but knowing that Essam trusted in my capabilities as a translator, I decided to take the risk and I am very happy with the result," said Lobna Youssef, the novel’s translator. She added that now that the first English edition is out, she will be awaiting fresh comments and new insights about the book.
Youssef added that the film version of "¼ Gram" is in development and he would like to see it distributed internationally. “Addiction is the same all over the world and the movie is meant to touch addicts from Egypt, France and even China," said Youssef. The writer introduced the young actors who went through excessive training with acting coach Hanan Youssef. They attended workshops in articulation, movement, meditation and, of course, acting, in King Mariout.
Many attendees waited until the discussion ended to personally congratulate Youssef and have their books signed by him. Overall, it was a pleasant and very informative evening. The novel is available at the Diwan bookstore for LE 100.