It doesn’t much matter who I am.
If you read ArabLit, you’re probably here for news of Arabic literature, or fresh literary voices, or chitter-chatter about Arabic-English translation. Does M. Lynx Qualey, the person behind this blog, really have three small children? Did she move to Cairo in August 2001? Does she drive slowly and cough violently at second-hand smoke? Well, yes. Does it matter? Not really.
After all, this blog is not about M. Lynx Qualey. It’s about Arab and Arabic literatures, and thus honesty of critique matters far more than veracity of biographical detail.
Yet with some blogs, biographical detail does matter. With some, it matters deeply. This is particularly the case when biographical details motivate not just real-world sympathies, but real-world actions. In the world of blogs, a bisexual female who writes of being a rape survivor sometimes turns out to be a middle-aged man, and those who extended their sympathy and support feel betrayed. In the world of books, sometimes a writer who says he’s been kidnapped by the Taliban and asks the masses to donate to his causes, well, you know.
So if a talented poet-blogger (or a blogger’s cousin) says she’s been kidnapped by the Syrian government and unjustly imprisoned, like so many others? And if there is no real verification outside the world of that blog? You want and don’t want it to be true.
Certainly, we are all inventing ourselves. In a sense, sure, everything that’s out there is fiction. Humans are always telling stories about ourselves; that’s how we thread a singular “I” through our lives. And yet I’d be lying if I claimed not to have a strong visceral reaction to the feeling that I’ve been fooled.
So, even though I don’t like sharing personal information, this felt like a day to out myself. I believe this is the only piece of memoir I’ve written although that, I suppose, could be wrong.