Q&A with Ibrahim Zaarur
3 January 2012
When did you begin writing "The Amazing Journey of Khair al-Din ibn Bard" and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I began writing this novel in the middle of 2010 and penned the last sentence in February 2011. This included a period of about two months when I wrote nothing. I kept postponing writing it and it was still just some reflections with details taken from the sad reality of our daily lives, until suddenly and I don't know how, they matured.
Right from the initial paragraphs it was clear to me that satire would dominate and be interwoven with pain until the end.
The novel confronts oppression and fear through satire, since the truth is that he who cannot joke cannot be serious.
A feature of the novel is the rapid and darkly comedic stream of consciousness. Is this like your other novels?
Comedy is a heavy word which I can't really accept because it goes against the ephemeral nature of satire. The rapid stream of consciousness is one of the things necessary to ensure a quick pace in written narrative. The writer wants to say everything all in one go, to break through all these layers of deeply-rooted ignorance and cultural asceticism in the scene (Jaha asking for the hand of the bride, for example). In this respect, the novel is totally unlike (my) other ones.
Did the novel take long to write and where were you when you completed it?
In practice, it took approximately three months and there were no changes made to it. I submitted it for printing immediately after finishing it. Whilst writing it, I never left my house in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
How have readers and critics received the novel?
I didn't show the novel to anyone, but gave it to the publisher as soon as I had finished. The publisher submitted it for the Prize before releasing it in the market.
Have you been influenced by any of the longlisted or shortlisted International Prize for Arabic Fiction novels?
Unfortunately I have not been able to get hold of those novels, apart from "Azazeel" and "Throwing Sparks Like Castles", in which I found a lot of boldness (in subject matter) but little artistic merit.
Do you have a literary project planned for the future?
At the moment I am doing research for my next novel called "Night of Saffron".