Ghost Writer

A new book by Jennie Erdal reveals what the life of a ghostwriter is like. For years, Erdal wrote for Naim Atallah, the renowned publisher who also made a name for himself as an interviewer.

She began as a kind of secretary, writing letters for him to editors or politicians before her first literary project, a volume of interviews called Women, which earned Atallah a special mention on the gossip pages and satirical magazines. The interview questions were written up by Erdal, as were the interviews themselves. It didn’t bother her, conscience-wise, she says. Not until Atallah decided he wanted to write a novel. Or rather, wanted Erdal to write a novel.

The novel in question, the one Atallah outlined for Erdal, involved a man who falls in loves with two cousins, and when he makes love to one of them, the other might also experience an orgasm. Erdal wrote it. When she decided to write this book, Atallah was initially encouraging but eventually distanced himself and won’t respond to Erdal’s efforts to stay in touch. The Scotsman also has an article about Erdal, although this one sees fit to lead with Atallah’s national background.