Interview with longlisted author Magbool Al-Alawi


When did you begin writing Seferberlik and where did the inspiration for it come from?

I began writing Seferberlik at the end of 2017. I wrote continuously, without a break, with perseverance and many drafts and re-writings, until the book reached its final form, which I felt was the best. I was inspired to write it after being profoundly affected by what I read in many books about the forced, inhuman deportation of the inhabitants of Medina, Saudi Arabia, the second holiest place, at the hands of the Ottoman ruler Fakhri Pasha. This happened at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a dark and cruel period in the region’s history.

Did the novel take long to write and where were you when you finished it?

Writing and re-writing took about a year, then about two months of almost daily editing. I wrote it in my office at home, and I used to carry the drafts around with me, even when travelling, to work on it during the journey or in my free time.

How have readers and critics received it?

Readers’ reception has been good and encouraging, and has spurred me on, to tell the truth. Articles have been written about it by literary critics which were published in some newspapers, and they were fairly encouraging.

What is your next project after this novel?

There is a new fictional project which I am working on at the moment. I began it about eight months ago and am still working on it, albeit with interruptions. It will see the light when it is finished.