Elias Khoury recently spoke about his novel كأنها نائمة (As Though She Were Sleeping) in Minneapolis, Minn., USA, which was the justification for my review of his book in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Milkweed Editions, which co-sponsored the talk, very generously posted audio of the event, as well as an abridged transcript.
I couldn’t figure out how to embed the player (despite the very straightforward instructions), but this should work:
|Audio Files||VBR MP3||Ogg Vorbis|
|Elias Khoury Introduces As Though She Were Sleeping||40.8 MB||12.6 MB|
|Elias Khoury Reads from As Though She Were Sleeping||35.1 MB||10.8 MB|
If not, do go here for lots of listening options.
Khoury says, in part: “I am a very engaged writer in the sense that I thought, always, that writing is a way of expressing our commitment to justice, our commitment to the marginal [people] in society that do not have ways to express themselves. That writing is a way of discovering the deep human experience, which is a very complex experience, and that writing must be in the service of justice. I continue to be like that. The only thing here that the [Palestine] issue, which I’ve written about in a long novel before this one—The Gate of the Sun—the Palestinian issue now takes, in this novel, another dimension. It is the moments before the Palestinian Nakba; it reflects a transition of societies of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.”
And also, interestingly, “This is the first time I [tried] to enter under the skin of a woman” despite his long desire to “feminize” the language.
Structurally, for writers, I think this book is interesting to look at for the reason Khoury discusses at the end:
It is a way to see ourselves as mirrors. We are mirrors for the other, and we are actually, in our daily life, structuring our stories and our concept of ourselves, our image, through the mirrors of others. We are all mirrors and in this world of mirrors, and the marvelous will emerge. Literature will not be a copy of reality, because it will take us to another reality, to the reality of our inner life and of our inner souls.
And whether this was a bit disingenuous or deeply felt, I don’t know, but I really liked this: “We are discovering new things so we are beginners. And those writers who ‘know’ how to write, believe me, are bad writers.”