Soueif on NPR

Sylvia Poggioli’s NPR piece about British Muslims focuses on the widening disconnect between Muslim youth and the culture they inhabit, but doesn’t offer anything terribly new. For the literary-minded among us, however, there’s an interesting exchange toward the end, with British-Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who just completed a new collection of essays titled Mezzaterra. The word refers to the common ground between cultures.

This was the world that my generation believed we had inherited, an area of overlap where one culture shaded into the other, where echoes and reflections added depth and perspective, where differences were interesting rather than threatening because they were foregrounded against a backdrop of affinities.

Soueif worries that this mezzaterra is being lost, that it’s being quickly swallowed up by conservatives on both sides.