Interview with longlisted author Habib Selmi


When did you begin writing Longing for the Woman Next Door and where did the inspiration for it come from?

I had the idea for Longing for the Woman Next Door for many years, but it needed to ferment in my mind before I could start writing. It has been the same process with all my novels up until now. I began writing it in 2016. Where did the idea come from? It came from the bustle of life and its never-ending, lively rhythm. From contemplating the movement and behaviour of the human creatures around me, and from my relationships with Tunisian and Arabs living in the West. And of course, later on, imagination came and did its work.


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

The writing took a relatively long time, about the same amount of time which most of my novels usually take. About three and a half years. I began writing it in Paris and finished it there.  


How have readers and critics received it?

Articles praising Longing for the Woman Next Door have been written in many well-known Arab cultural newspapers and online. From readers’ comments on social media which I have read, websites of book clubs, and friends’ comments, it seems that the novel has made a good impression.  


What is your next literary project after this novel?

At the moment, I am engrossed in writing a new novel.