“Always do what they tell you not to do” — Rana Haddad


Her debut novel, The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor, is making a lot of noise. In their review of Rana Haddad’s Syrian novel, Arab News wrote: “[An] exceptional debut novel. Satirical and witty . . . there is a skillful lightness to Haddad’s writing.”

Hoopoe caught up with the author to ask her seven questions.

What author, living or dead, would you like to meet and what would you wish to know?
It sounds tacky but I would really love to have met William Shakespeare and to have spent a few days with him making tea and Elizabethan cakes and helping out while he was putting on one of his plays—especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’d like to see if he sang his own songs and how he hired the actors and how he rehearsed with them, and generally what his personality was like. And whether he was as wise and romantic in real life, as he appears to be from his writing. If, however, it turns out that he is quite a disappointing character—self-important, disdainful, duplicitous and not playful nor deep then maybe then I’d rather not meet him. I would also love to have met Marguerite Duras, Nazek Al-Malaika, Gibran Khalil Gibran and Mahmoud Darwish.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Merchant of Syria by Diana Darke, her research and insights are excellent. And I’m listening to more music than reading, as I am writing and reading distracts me.

What book would you have liked to have written?
I would like to have written Orlando by Virginia Woolf or James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl or The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot – preferably all three. (But there are many other books, including poetry books and illustrated books, I would include in that list).

What emotion brings out your best writing?
Happiness in love, as well as unhappiness in love.

Did you hide any secrets in your novel that only a few people spotted?
Yes. I gave a young suit-wearing boy in Aleppo the name of my late father Marwan.

If you were writing your autobiography, what would the title be?
Typewriter on a Boat in the Middle of the Sea

What is your life motto?
Always do what they tell you not to do. Listen to your inner self, not to others. Look for something surprising.

July 2018


Posted on 02/07/2018 in FICTION General, FICTION Historical, FICTION Political, tagged as fiction, Hoopoe, Middle East, Rana Haddad, Syria, The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor


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