Technology has re-defined the way most industries now operate, whether it’s film, TV, music, or even business. Although literature has definitely been impacted by technology - made more accessible with e-books, for instance - it’s difficult to say it has ‘re-defined’ it. It continues to maintain its traditional format; white pages covered in black text, paper-back, hard-back, or the new addition now of a digital version, but in a sense it remains uniform in its delivery.
Palestinian-Canadian author Chaker Khazaal sought to change that, at least in his own latest release, Life Dice, a novel telling the story of a Yazidi gambler, Aslan, who needs to free his wife, Farida, who was captured by ISIS as a sex slave. The twist? The book is experimental; drawing on its title and a core concept in the novel - chance, and the roll of dice - the book allows readers to roll the proverbial dice and arrive at one of six endings prepared by the author. The digital copy comes with an application that facilitates this and for the traditionalists among us, the physical copy actually comes with sealed envelopes that reveal the different endings.
We need to speak to the [current] generation in the language they speak, not in a language that we impose on them that they don’t relate to.
The interactive book also embeds video clips throughout; certain parts can be scanned through the book's specially created app, where there will be clips correlating to the events of the book. The application was developed in collaboration with Numbase Group, an international mobile value-added service provider. “I always wanted to present the plight of the Yazidi people in Iraq, but I wanted to do it in a non-traditional way,” Khazaal tells us, before further explaining that discussing the story with Ayman Jomaa, the CEO of Numbase Group, gave him the inspiration to focus on gambling, and then, to utilise interactive technology, and ultimately, make the book an experimental project.
Literature is sacred. I could understand why disrupting it would be intimidating
“We were planning to launch this spring and then the coronavirus outbreak started, which cancelled all of our events; book fairs, book signings, etc., and we don’t know when it’s gonna end,” he continues. “I decided that since this is an experiment from day one, and we don’t know what tomorrow holds, that we should run another experiment and share one chapter of the novel for free, and let people get excited about reading,” which is achieved here by giving readers the opportunity to provide feedback and potentially change details in the plotline.
“Literature is sacred. I could understand why disrupting it would be intimidating for so many, but not for me,” Khazaal explains. “Reading is so important and we need to make it fun. We need to speak to the [current] generation in the language they speak, not in a language that we impose on them that they don’t relate to.”
Khazaal’s previous publications include Amazon bestseller Tale of Tala and Confessions of a War Child, which was published in 2013.
You can read the book’s first chapter now for free, and download the application, through the book’s web page.