Last year Ibrahim Nasrallah won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his novel The Second War of the Dog, described by the jury as “a masterful vision of a dystopian future in a nameless country.”
Among Nasrallah’s dozen other novels, Time of White Horses (Hoopoe) was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009 and The Lanterns of the King of Galilee (AUC Press) was longlisted in 2013.
“I began writing in my final year of middle school; I was merely 13 years old,” said Nasrallah in a past interview. Over time, writing would come to play a central role in his life. By 2006 Nasrallah had decided to dedicate himself fully to his career as an author. Today he is considered one of the most prominent writers in the Arab world.
Born in 1954 to Palestinian parents uprooted from their homeland during the Nakba, he spent his childhood in the al-Wehdat Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. He later taught in Saudi Arabia for two years and worked as a journalist, before returning to Jordan to write for various newspapers.
In his Seven Answers, the Palestinian-Jordanian explains why he pays “special attention” to the ending of his novels, reflects on his approach to life, and talks about the writer who has truly inspired him.
What emotion brings out your best writing?
Nasrallah: Every emotion contributes to writing: love, grief, anger, but only insofar as they become a part of the work, not the work itself, because writing needs fresh ideas and an awareness of them as such. It also requires the artistic ability to rework those ideas in a manner that is creative and powerful.