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As difficult as dealing with the global spread of the Coronavirus and the world-wide lockdown was, it is these hard circumstances that inspire creativity and prompt artistic expression of the human condition.

iRead in partnership with Dar El Shorouk launched a writing competition to encourage young writers to free their imaginations and share their experience with us through stories.

The book will take you on a journey through the quarantine period from the various perspectives of gifted writers; their words paint magnificent pictures, and their characters capture your attention.

Let us take you behind the scenes of the making of Layaly El Corona competition, which challenged participants to write a short story that takes place during quarantine. The best 20 stories would all be published in a book by Dar El Shorouk. There were no specifications on the genres of the stories; writers had free rein.

The number of submitted stories exceeded 800 and were later filtered by the iRead team into 200 stories that met the terms and conditions of the competition. What was so distinctive about the second stage of filtering was the high number of imaginative stories. While the crisis the world was facing was so real, many of the writers chose to express their view on the pandemic through fantasy.

Furthermore, in many of the stories, the main characters were doctors and nurses, which reflects how people saw the medical team during this crisis as true heroes. Additionally, most of the stories were hopeful and promoted the idea that Coronavirus would be defeated, and it would become a story that we would tell future generations.

Finally, the best 20 stories were selected, ranging in genres from romance to thriller, comedy, and science fiction. In 1st place came Mirna Mohamed, with her story titled Life or Death, in 2nd place was Youssef Mohamed with The Last Message, and in the 3rd place was Ayman Saad with War Criminal.

Here are the names of the rest of the winners in no particular order, Jon Helmy, Ahlam Mansy, Ayaat El Sayed, Mariam Ahmed, Ahmed Kamel, Ahmed Saeed, Khaled Abdeen, Khaled Naser, Ahmed Mohamed, Tasnim Abd Alah, Amir Abd El Rahman, Mona El Mosalamy, Shady Aziz, Abd El Rahman Bomidin, Islam Abd El Bary, Hend Abd El Meguid, and Nardin Ezzat.

Layaly El Corona is available now in El Shorouk bookstores.

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