Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) has published the outcome of a global call for submissions launched in April 2020 for literary and/or artistic works inspired by life in confinement due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the personal changes that have occurred as a result of the world in crisis
The book, titled Together……Apart, compiles the personal thoughts, reflections and analysis of over 100 individuals from around the world and is now available online as an Open Access book found on the HBKU Press website.
“When we opened the call for submissions at the start of the lockdown period for many countries around the world, our aim was to document history and provide a literary outlet for people to share their varied thoughts and perspectives about this experience that the world was collectively facing,” explains Rima Ismail, Outreach and Special Projects Manager at HBKU Press. “We were both shocked and humbled by the response. We received hundreds of submissions from a total of 23 countries around the world, all of them providing very raw and real accounts and reflections on the different facets of the pandemic.”
An editorial committee was established to review the submissions whereby each editor read every piece and provided a recommendation for its inclusion in the book. The final pieces chosen were those that offered unique and thoughtful perspectives, enriching academic insight and very poignant reflections of the times.
The narratives, articles, poems, artwork, academic analysis, and stories from around the world that were chosen exemplify the very real and raw human emotions that defined the first few months of the pandemic: fear, hope, uncertainty, love, depression, faith, curiosity, loneliness, and gratitude. The book is divided into three sections, aptly titled, The Virus, The Impact, and The Takeaway, to highlight the notion that when it seemingly all fell apart, and everything was broken, it was and never will be beyond repair. Each section and the book as a whole demonstrate how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us, in so many different ways, to challenge the status quo and to question and redefine our concept of ‘normal’.
“This initiative and the subsequently published book, Together ……Apart, reflect both the importance of literacy as a means to communicate and the spirit of cultural exchange that is essential to HBKU Press’s mission,” adds Ismail. “We hope that this book becomes a testament to the human spirit and how, at our darkest moment, we remained connected. We built the foundations for countless moments of light — small gestures of compassion and acknowledgements of gratitude that allow us to show who we are, how we want to live, and what matters to us.”
The book Together……Apart can be freely accessed and read on the HBKU Press website, found at https://hbkupress.com/en/together-apart.
“Thank you to all of those who participated,” concludes Ismail. “Though it has been almost a year since the pandemic began, for better or for worse, the world, our lives, and the course of humanity has changed forever. Though the future before us remains a mystery as the waves of the virus in countries around the world continue to ebb and surge, together, apart, we will remain unified.”
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