KAWA News sat down with up and coming writer Saad Almotham to talk about the recent success of his “Sauce of Mango” book and accompanying exhibit, which features micro short stories and illustrating artworks
In the halls of the Almashtal Creative Space, visitors had the opportunity to find a new exposition featuring the works of Saad Almotham, who is one of today’s most interesting writers. A metals engineer by profession, Almotham writes ultra-short stories in his free time. Through Twitter, Almotham was able to gain notoriety for his whimsical and captivating animal short stories. He has since taken 100 of them and worked with visual artists to create Sauce of Mango, which is at once a book and an exposition.
Making his writing vision into a reality
After starting in 2017, he received more and more attention, with an increasing fan base and interaction with his content. “It kept evolving and more people started following me and liking these kinds of stories,” says Almotham. And in 2019, Almotham decided to make an artbook. “I see them like little short movies in my head. People sure, they read the stories, but they didn’t get the experience as I did in my head.” He thus collected 100 out of these 200 stories to put into their book, with each story coming with an accompanying piece of art. The stories, which are quirky, sometimes funny, and sometimes serious, often come with a moral at the end, which serve as a reflection of the human condition.
The pigeon finally got her truck-driving license.
She was worried about her first time driving a truck in public.
However, it wasn’t too bad.
The engine is a bit loud, and there were a few new speed bumps probably placed there so animals slow down.
And when she got to her destination, she heard about a rogue truck driver who ran over 19 cars and no one could stop.
The duck posted her picture on a social media platform.
Two minutes have passed and what’s this? Five minutes?
Where are the likes?
Her self-respect is on the line.
If others don’t like her, then liking herself deserves reexamination, she thought.
She held a stick in preparation to lash herself.
Hold on a second.
Someone liked it.
Rain starts with a drop.
She can accept herself another day.
He then collaborated with Fetrh Art, in order to get at least 50 artists to draw two pieces each for his new idea. Following a successful agreement with Fetrh in May 2019, the content was ready in months, completing 96 different paintings in collaboration with 56 artists. The art pieces are highly detailed and varied, taking the reader through the quick stories while fleshing out the presented stories. Participating artists came from around the Middle East. He also plans to make a translation from Arabic to English in order to widen his audience, and Almotham has said that work has already started.
His work was featured in parallel at the Al-Mashtal in Riyadh, following a successful podcast appearance, during which the writer was able to host live readings, as well as a book signing. But this was a long time coming; the initial plans were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed their plans for an exhibition significantly. “It was a dream come true for us, because we already did it as a virtual art exposition, but the initial plan was to do it as a [live] exhibition”.
The Sauce of Mango Exhibit Takes Shape
During the exhibition, the art was rotated for three days, making each day different from the other. Attendees loved it, linking the medium of writing with the artwork which came. “People who love stories or people who love art, they can both appreciate [it]. And especially when they come together… When I had the idea I knew it was a crazy idea, especially after I told it to people. But they were really impressed how we got 56 artists to work on this concept and to bring it to life and to implement it successfully…”
His Final Thoughts, and What Comes Next
Almotham’s next step? Translating the stories, with a potential for digital formats, and continue from there.“When I translate in English, I was kind of worried how it might translate, but actually I got I think most of it translated and the ideas kind of transfer very well. I’ve seen people’s reactions to it and I think they appreciate it and I’m very happy to see it perceived like this.” With the reason behind doing it being to establish the proof of concept, after his success Almotham is already considering his next winning concept going beyond Sauce of Mango. “It’s really good that I stuck with it, because otherwise we wouldn’t have reached something like this… I was simply writing the tweets out, I didn’t know it would lead to anything.”
“I think we need more initiatives like this that can bring together all this talent, and can formulate this kind of coherent projects like this one,” says Almotham. “Things we can do to export our culture and share with the world”.