And he said, You should give them neutral names. You know that we can often tell a person by their name. Habibi was a Christian like me, of course. It’s what I do. Of course, Creswell asked what it means to write the present:
It means you have to name things as they really are. But to have a present, you have to know which things to forget and which things to remember. Interestingly, although his work is obsessed with violence and memory, he says he is not interested in memory “as such”:
I’m not interested in memory as such, I’m interested in the present. In the Paris Review, translator-scholar Robyn Creswell talks with novelist (scholar, essayist, activist) Elias Khoury about his life and the role of literature within it:
Khoury, who is a charming conversant in any setting, studied social history, and wrote his thesis on the Mount Lebanon civil war. Advertisements
Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrPinterestPocketLike this:Like Loading…‹ Djinn Fall in Love in New, Wide-Ranging ‘Djinnthology’Categories: Lebanese You can read the whole interview at the Paris Review. Our lack of written history made me feel that I didn’t even know the country I grew up in. Are you going to change that? I remember Emile Habibi, the great Palestinian novelist, once said to me, How dare you give the characters of your novels Christian or Muslim names? I didn’t know my place in it. I said to him, But that’s the way our society is. I don’t think I made any great discoveries as a historian, but when I began writing novels, a few years later, I found that I wanted to write the present—the present of our own civil war. So I said, Your own name isn’t neutral, it’s Emile!