In August of 2014, an excerpt from Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji’s novel, Using Life, was published in an Arabic literary magazine. Eight months after the excerpt appeared, a 65-year-old Egyptian man filed a case against Naji, alleging that “reading the excerpt caused him to experience heart palpitations, sickness, and a drop in blood pressure.”
An Egyptian court found Naji guilty at retrial and sentenced him to the maximum sentence – two years in person. After 10 months in prison, Naji’s sentence was suspended and he was temporarily released but remained under a travel ban until the original sentence was overturned in 2018 and he was finally able to leave Egypt.
In 2019, he became a Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute City of Asylum Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – An exiled writer in a new country, a new city and a new reality.
Through his narrative, For Vegas follows Ahmed as he finds his foothold in his adoptive city, striving to understand not only his own life as a writer in exile, but the life of a city whose roots were founded as a waystation, a temporary stop for so many over its storied history.
After the film, Ahmed Naji and Robin Greenspun will lead a Q&A discussion at Segue at The Beverly Theater.