Interview with longlisted author Ezzedine Choukri Fishere
When did you start writing Farah’s Story and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I started writing it in 2014. After about a year, I stopped and began writing another novel – All This Nonsense – and I didn’t return to Farah until I had finished it, in 2017. I don’t remember exactly how I began, nor a particular point of departure. Perhaps it was my own personal subconscious desire to eradicate and do away with all that was old, to begin afresh. Or maybe it was my experience of the multi-layered suffering which the women around me were going through.
Did the novel take long to write and where were you when you finished it?
This novel was written between two continents. I began it in Cairo and large parts of it were written there. Then I stopped and went back to it to finish it when I was in the United States. In total, the writing took several years, during which my life changed completely. I re-wrote it several times and made a lot of changes. In a way, this novel grew in parallel with my own personal growth.
How have readers and critics received it?
I am living in the United States, so am not sure how readers have received it. I haven’t had the chance to organize book signings, meetings with readers, discussions and other such things which give the writer an idea about readers’ opinions. There are other indications, like the number of copies sold, which according to Dar al-Shorouk is high, but reading in Egypt isn’t necessarily linked to book distribution. Many readers get hold of electronic copies which aren’t counted in the official tally. There have been very positive responses, some of which are touching and affecting, but these are from the active segment of social media. I haven’t yet seen literary reviews of the novel which go beyond a simple description and introduction.
What is your next literary project after this novel?
I’m working on two projects at the same time: one is a novel set in Jerusalem and the other is a novel about a crime committed in the American University [in Cairo]. I don’t know which one will be finished or paused, even if just temporarily. We’ll see.