Celebrity chronicles are as important to storytelling as any other format, say authors at SIBF 2022  

Celebrity chronicles are as important to storytelling as any other format, say authors at SIBF 2022  

Writers Neil Strauss and Ahmed Mourad dissect the global public’s enduring fascination with the lives of celebrities, especially in the age of social media 

Sharjah, November 08, 2022

Books written by and of celebrities are among the most popular genres with readers the world over, topping bestseller charts and stoking curiosity with details of the private lives of very public figures. But why do celebrities fascinate readers?

The 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) explored this phenomenon with a panel of distinguished authors including Neil Strauss, American author, journalist and ghost writer known for his The Game and Rules of the Game; and Egyptian author and screenwriter Ahmed Mourad, whose popular works include Vertigo, Diamond Dust and The Blue Elephant.

The two writers offered their differing viewpoints on the public’s all-consuming obsession with celebrity accounts and memoirs.

Neil Strauss, the New York Times bestselling author, said: “We usually have an image of celebrities in our heads and their real story turns out to be completely different. It helps us feel better about our own lives and problems.”

He added: “What fascinated me about interviewing celebrities is that we think money and fame will solve all our problems. But they only make our problems bigger. I remember it was Bruce Springsteen who said: ‘The human psyche is not made to go from playing music in a garage to playing on a stage in front of 75,000 people’.”

Egyptian novelist and screenwriter Ahmed Mourad believes the fascination with the lives of famous people is “part of human nature”.

He said: “In our heads, famous people are close to fictional characters. Our own lives might not give us the chance to experience these worlds they inhabit.”

Discussing the growing prominence of celebrity chronicles in the age of social media where every detail of their lives is posted online, Strauss said that a book is a chance to tell a story well. “Their struggles, hardships and their journey can only be captured in a proper telling. It has also become that much harder for celebrities to put their stories out there now as each little detail can be picked out and torn apart,” he said.

Mourad said chronicling the lives of celebrities can be as important as any other record, for preserving the memories and value of the human race. “Unless celebrities tell their stories, we risk losing important details of their lives on a permanent basis. We must learn to accept their stories without criticism and analysis.”

Finally, celebrity tales are as crucial to storytelling as any other format, the authors agreed. Asking the audience how many of them wanted to write a book, Strauss said: “I have never really met someone who didn’t want to tell their story. We’ve all been through a lot of stuff. We want to live on, past our lives. It’s just that celebs get paid to write it!”


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