" Qadisha, the valley of the silence "
(according to the conference given to the French-speaking Book fair of Beirut on November 3rd, 2012)
With consternation, I can only notice a real fracture between East and West through the
dramatic events which shake every time more hardly our planet and I witness powerless an
irreparable quartering between cultures which are so different.
It is obvious that, more and more, the Difference frightens and the diversity is not any more
perceived as an asset but rather as a weakness. This Difference is seen as a threat, a danger in
front of a system of established values considered as the truth, or on the contrary it is claimed
as an exclusive membership which it is necessary to preserve at all costs. In both cases, the
result is the same : we close on ourselves, we refuse the exchange with the Other one. Much
more, we stigmatize the difference by putting back to back incomparable value systems, we
set the cultures against each other until quarter them. It is true that it is easier to reject the
difference rather than to try to understand it and to accept it. Indeed, try to understand the
difference means to turn one’s points of reference upside down and to agree to call into
question our own value system.
But why do we arrive at this split between cultures today? Of course this is the way we
comprehend the Other which really raises problem. At the present time, internet constitutes
the privileged source of information to the global scale, and we can discover the other cultures
with a very big ease. But this means of communication is double-edge, because it rests on an
essential principle : the speedco. We receive the almost immediate information, with many
images and little text, from multiple sources which can turn out contradictory. It often results
a lack of explanations and justifications which can damage the information. The Difference,
due to the lack of explanations, is directly perceived as a threat and immediately rejected.
Keeping this in mind, the part of the writer is essential : the novel is not only a story, but it is
also a peaceful average to really make the readers discover a country, people, in a word the
Other one (provided that the feather of the writer remains enough objective to guarantee the
truth). Through great detail and the precision of the words, the " novel discovery " can allow
to explain the difference to the readers by presenting and by explaining the other systems of
culture. It brings them to think and can allow them to accept more easily this difference by
As French-Lebanese writer, I had one’s first experience of the “double culture” and today I
can say that I am between two worlds, the East and the West. Respectfully and understanding,
I applied myself to extract the wealth of this diversity, so human as cultural. Thanks to this
experience, I attempt through my books to make the readers think about the notion of identity,
difference, in a purpose of opening on the Other one. I open a door of the West towards the
East, for exchange and sharing.
In this the way was born " Qadisha, the valley of the silence " (in September, 2012 –
publishing Harmattan), as a mark of my experience of Lebanon. Through the story of a young
man who searches for his origins, I invite the readers to discover the Lebanese culture and to
understand better this country, which cannot leave indifferent, on the contrary : it captivates
the one who takes time to know it and tries to understand it.
But finally, why to laud so fiercely the opening towards the Other one? Because the exchange
between the cultures is a real wealth which it is continually necessary to stimulate and to
maintain. The opposition between the cultures is sterile, it does not allow to move forward,
nor individually and even less on the scale of a society. To evolve, progress, move forward,
we need the difference, we need to question continually, not to live only on what we know. It
is necessary to learn again to accept the difference, to understand it. In one word, it is
necessary to overtake the simple I to become WE. It is what is lacking in our modern societies
today. Where is the cohesion, the unity, the identity of the peoples?
" The identity of an individual is the complex result of its origins, the context in which he
evolves and persons whom he meets on his way "
Stéphanie NASSIF " La Lointaine, the sacrifice of the Nubia "
in November, 2010 - publishing Harmattan