Longlisted interview with Muhsin al-Ramli


When did you begin writing Daughter of the Tigris and where did the inspiration for it come from?

I began writing it in 2016. It wasn’t really a question of inspiration, but more a result of my long-term interest in the turbulent, unstable situation in Iraq since it was invaded and occupied: the destruction and daily, horrific killing which have happened as a result and under the auspices of this occupation. Amidst this destruction, I have witnessed the strength and bravery of Iraqi women and their constant efforts to do something.


Did the novel take long to write and where were you when you finished it?

It took two years of continuous work, research, writing and revision, because the subject has to do with a complicated and very eventful period in the history of Iraq. I finished writing it in Madrid, where I live. 


How have readers and critics received it?

The reception has exceeded my expectations, especially since the book was printed and distributed in difficult circumstances because of the coronavirus. Transportation was not working and legal isolation kept being imposed, yet despite that it quickly reached many different parts of Iraq and several bookshops in Arab countries. It was discussed at literary events and many excellent articles of literary criticism were written about it by Iraqis and Arabs.  


What is your next literary project after this novel?

Coronavirus has spread, taking from us many friends, colleagues and loved ones, and I was afraid it would take me too, so I started to work on the artistic and literary corpus which my late brother Hassan Mutlak left, in order to publish or re-publish it. I revised, re-arranged and edited it. So far, I have completed work on six books and there are two left. After finishing those, if I live, I will return to work on a novel which I had begun and stopped.