A literary tourist’s guide to Damascus in a fictional walkabout around the city, narrated by the protagonist, an aspiring novelist
Then, she looked at me assiduously, “What is it that you do exactly?” I replied, savoring my last sip of coffee, with all the sass of a gypsy, “A novelist.” How to write a novel? Where to find inspiration? What is it that novels do for us? What is the nature of love? And most importantly, how and where to find it? Embarking on a literary and romantic journey, an aspiring novelist guides the reader through the streets of Damascus to bookstores, libraries, historical landmarks, cafés, and neighborhoods that carry the traces of history and the possibilities of the future. Mining the rich and divergent histories, narratives, texts, memories, and people that occupy the narrator’s mind and everyday life, Writing Love casts a critical eye on contemporary society and offers a playful testament to the tangential nature of writing and the many ways to fall in love. Writing Love was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.
Khalil Sweileh was born in Hasaka, Syria, in 1959, and graduated from Damascus University in 1986 with a degree in literature. He is the author of three collections of poetry and four novels. He is editor-in-chief of the Syrian Tishrin Cultural Supplement, and is the literary correspondent of the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar. Alexa Firat is assistant professor of Arabic in the Department of Critical Languages at Temple University.