How to pronounce Rabih Alameddine: Rah-be-a Ahl-ah-meh-dean
Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, and I, the Divine, The Hakawati, the story collection, The Perv, and most recently, An Unnecessary Woman. He divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut.
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A Conversation with Rabih Alameddine, author of The Hakawati
Okay, let's begin at the beginning. Do you remember when the idea for
The Hakawati came to you? In your mind's eye, what did you see?
Along time ago, in a galaxy far, far awayoh, never mind.
The idea for The Hakawati had many beginnings, as is the case for many a novel, I presume. Which beginning would one consider to be the true one, the original?
Let's see, in 1999 I wrote a long piece that was later trimmed and published as a short story in Zoetrope. That was chapter 10 from the novelwhich goes back and forth between my main character Osama al-Kharrat's visit to the UCLA campus as a teenager and his vigil at his father's hospital bed years laterin a different form. I wrote a couple more stories, one successful, the other not. The latter ended up as a part of the book. I had begun to see the al-Kharrat family in my head. It still wasn't a novel. I was floundering. I had different novels in my head and none of them seemed to make much sense.
I was teaching in Beirut 2003annus horribilis, as the Queen would saywhen my father was dying in the hospital. I couldn't follow through on any of the novels ...
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