Ismail Fahad Ismail Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: Kuwait is mourning Esmail Fahd Esmail, one of its finest and most prolific novelists, who passed away on Tuesday aged 78.

The literary iconic figure died less than 24 hours after taking part in a cultural forum that discussed his novel ‘Another Black Box’.

“His death is a painful loss to the Kuwaiti and to the Gulf cultural scene,” Kuwait’s Information Minister and Chair of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature (NCCAL) Mohammad Al Jabri said in his eulogy. “We have lost an exceptionally creative novelist and an outstanding pioneer who embraced several young talents and largely contributed to enriching the cultural and literary scene.”

In a statement, the NCCAL paid homage to Esmail, stressing that his work and legacy were crucial references for the Kuwaiti novel and that several generations of Kuwaiti writers and novelists would benefit from them.

Esmail published a book of short stories ‘The Dark Spot’ in 1965, but it was his first novel ‘The Sky Was Blue’ in 1970 that made the real breakthrough in his career.

Salah Abdul Saboor, a famous Arab literary critic, said that he had been pleasantly surprised by the novel. “It was a big surprise for me because the novel was amazing. It was written in a region with no traditions for novels and where poetry was the dominating literary art. Esmail is the pioneer of novels in Kuwait,” he said.

His novels highlighted the positive and negative aspects of the lives of Arabs as they faced historic, political and social challenges.

Kuwaiti writer Shamsa Al Enezi said that she could not believe the news of his death.

“I am very attached to this novelist who is both highly creative and modestly humble. His work will live on with us and with the next generations, because it covered all aspects of the human nature, delving deep in the past and exploring the present,” she said.

Esmail was granted several national awards in recognition of his literary work and his critical studies.