Jordanian novelist Mo'nis Al Razaz, 51, died of respiratory complications last Friday. Al Razaz studied in Baghdad and then in the U.K. He lived in Beirut in the early 1980s and worked as a researcher at the Palestinian Affairs Magazine.

He left Beirut in 1982 to settle in Amman, where he became adviser to the Jordanian minister of culture and chairman of the Jordanian Writers' League. He held both positions for several years.

Mo'nis Al Razaz belongs to the second generation of Jordanian writers. He started writing in 1973, and his first book was a mix of poetry and drama. This fusion reflected Al Razaz's ingenuity - the anxious author writing about the sign of the times.

In 1977, he published his first collection of short stories entitled The Sea is Behind You. Besides writing books, Al Razaz devoted himself to translating an encyclopaedia on theatre and several books from international literature into Arabic.

He is the elder son of the Arab nationalist intellectual, Moneef Al Razaz, one of the founders of the Al Baath Party in Iraq.

His father's tragic death and his political itinerary had a profound effect on him, and fired his imagination - they inspired many of his writings, a mix of fiction and politics. Other literary influences include old Arabic texts and European thought.

Al Razaz was influenced by writers like Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Sartre and philosopher Bergeson. Some of his novels are Alive in the Dead Sea, Confessions of a Mute Gun, Shrapnel and Mosaic, The Grumpy, The Memories of a Dinosaur and A Comma at the End of the Line.

Antagonistic themes

Omar Shabanah writes in Al Hayat (UK-based) that his novels are a combination of antagonistic themes such as democracy and dictatorship, freedom and torture, expansion and regression and nationalism and regionalism to reveal the duality that Arabs face in their daily life.

Al Razaz depicted the reality of the Arab world through satire, full of pessimism - describing his deception. And, the end, he dreams of a better world, adds Shabanah.

The author leaves us at the most critical and sombre time of our history, but we can forgive him, because his passing away reflects his refusal to accept hard reality, says Shabanah.

In Al Khaleej (UAE) Youssef Abou Loz writes that the work of Al Razaz can be summarised by two main thoughts - his political experience and his city Amman. Al Razaz describes his political itinerary as very "bitter and painful", and "that is why his novels are full of tension and anxiety," concludes Abou Loz.