March 3, 2021

Nationalism is always exclusive and Alexandria was an example

Nationalism is always exclusive and Alexandria was an example



Nationalism "is always an exclusive feeling about others" as lived the Egyptian city of Alexandria, a melting pot of a cosmopolitan society that has been shrinking over the decades, according to the Spanish writer Julia Navarro.

Sitting next to a window of the emblematic Hotel Cecil de Alejandría, one of the stages of his new novel "Tú no matarás", which is published today in Spain and Chile, Navarro makes it clear that "in the end, nationalism, of whatever kind and In any country, it is always a feeling that excludes others ".

He points out in an interview with Efe that the city of Alexandria has been an "example" of this.

"Tú no matarás", published in Spanish by Plaza & Janés and in Catalan by Rosa dels Vents, recounts the friendship between Fernando, a young editor, son of a reprisal Republican, Catalina and Eulogio.

The three decide to undertake a flight from a Spain hit by the Civil War (1936-1939) escaping each of their own circumstances and making their first stop in the Alexandria of World War II (1939-1945).

Behind the windows of the historic Cecil uncovers a chaotic atmosphere in the streets of Alexandria, mixed with the elegant buildings with European influence on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, a landscape that has wanted to recreate in its voluminous history and in which some now only see it as a memory.

Since the independence of Egypt and the nationalization of the Suez Canal in the 1950s, whose speech for the proclamation was made by the Egyptian president and pan-Arab leader Gamal Abdel Naser in his native Alexandria, the foreign community in the city has gone diluting with time.

"Alexandria was a melting pot of an absolutely open society in which everyone who arrived was absorbed by the city, in which there were people from all places, who were mostly Alexandrians, no matter where they came from," says the writer, MS confesses that to imagine it was "essential" the book "Alexandria" of EM Forster

Navarro nationalism produces "a lot of concern because normally nationalisms have much more to do with emotions and feelings than with reason, we are living at this time in Spain with Catalonia," he says.

His characters will be welcome, regardless of their origin, in this Alexandria of the 40s, where they will have to continue dealing with the weight of their consciences, a recurring theme in Navarro's novels, and meet some influential women who will mark the course of his life in a book that has almost a thousand pages.

In fact, this novel, which began to write in 2013, had several times the risk of not seeing the light because, as the author says, was stored for years in a drawer with only the first part completed, but finally resumed in 2016.

In addition, in September of this year, during his last trip to the publisher to deliver the only definitive copy with corrections by hand, Navarro forgot the thousand folios in a taxi and did not recover them again, he recalls.

"Where is my novel? If someone knows, call," he says smiling, before assuring that there will not be a second part.

What can be present is that "You will not kill" becomes a television fiction, just like his novel "Tell me who I am", which is preparing an audiovisual adaptation for a television series.

However, Navarro is not very convinced of the future result.

"It's a process in which I'm suffering so much that I think I will not like to repeat the experience, because in the end the writers rewrite the novel and you end up not recognizing it," he says.

But, he warns, that if his last book becomes a movie or a series, Madrid, his first scenario, would be "in black and white"; Alexandria, "in Technicolor", and occupied Paris, the last stop of the novel, "with modern cinema techniques".

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