Interview with longlisted author Amjad Nasser
When did you begin writing Here is the Rose and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I began writing this novel in 2012. The source of inspiration is the character of Don Quixote. I have always been interested in this idealistic character, who thinks of himself as an invincible knight working to promote values that no longer exist in his time. I believe that this character exists across eras. There is always someone who thinks he wants to singlehandedly change and fix the world, which he believes to be corrupt. He wishes to restore a previous era where respect and justice were valued. I love this character with all its naiveté; its ability to dream and desire to effect change, even if it is just an illusion. A character that thinks of himself as a prophet and takes himself very seriously, while in reality he only draws the ridicule of those around him. It is like the Shakespearean characters that we continue to find throughout the ages because they represent human motivations that are perhaps unchanged by time, as if these are motivations inherent to humanity.
Did it take long to write and where were you when you finished it?
It took me about four years during which I wrote intermittently. The events in the Arab world, known as the Arab Spring, cast their shadow on my daily and professional life, which forced me to put the novel aside more than once and get involved in the developments that changed the face of our region. I began writing it in London, which was also where I finished the novel.
How have readers and critics received it?
I think it was well received. Many Arab critics and writers who are interested in the novel wrote about it.
What is your next literary project after this novel?
I am working on two projects: preparing a new collection of poems and the general outline for a new novel. But I have to finish the poetry collection before starting on the new novel. Usually the general outline is only a starting point that will undergo many changes as I go along, I never have a final picture of a literary work before beginning to work on it.