Interview with longlisted author Azher Jerjis
When did you begin writing Sleeping in the Cherry Field and where did the inspiration for it come from?
The idea for the novel came to me in the winter of 2013, when I was struck by the sight of a postman in the neighbourhood where I live. He was a depressed-looking immigrant, wearing an excessive quantity of thick fur clothes, and he seemed strangely edgy as he put the letters in postboxes. I asked about him in town, and was told that he was an Iraqi immigrant who had lost all his family members in the 2003 American bombing of Baghdad. Since arriving in Norway, he had lived in isolation from the world and only knew the way to work. His story inspired me and I began to plant the first seeds of the novel, but the project was postponed because of writing another work. After that, I began thinking again about the overall structure of the novel and dealing with small details.
Did the book take long to write and where were you when you completed it?
The real writing, organizing the drafts and working at it did not take long - about a year and a half. But the mental engagement with the story and its details and characters is what took a long time. I finished writing the novel in Norway, where I live.
How have readers and critics received it?
I think it has been received well. The readings, reviews and articles which have been written about it by writers, readers and interested people, were very positive.
What is your next literary project after this novel?
I am writing a new work of fiction and hope to finish it at the end of 2020.