Reading Recap: Olsson’s

Audience: About 35.
Anxiety index: 1 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Author John Kropf.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 8.
Book given away: None. (I forgot to pack one!)

My trip to our nation’s capital last week was my very first, but for some reason I wasn’t nervous at all about my reading. The weather was great, the turnout was excellent, and, even better, the audience was really engaged. I asked people what they wanted me to read. They suggested “The Fanatic,” and I was happy to oblige, especially because it’s not a piece I read from very often, since it’s pretty long. In any case, the reading went very well. Some questions I was asked: Where will your book be published? (Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil.) Has your book been translated into Arabic? (No.) Do you want to translate it into Arabic? (Of course. Though the translation that’s closest to my heart is one into Darija–Moroccan Arabic–which I’ll do myself, after I finish the novel I’m working on now.) Do you feel that when you talk about problems in Moroccan society you’re airing dirty laundry? (I understand that concern, particularly given the vicious images we see reflected back at us from the media. But as a writer I have to do what feels true to the characters I create. I hope the world in the book is complete enough and plausible enough that it will ring true to the reader.) Do you want to write non-fiction? (Yes. Maybe. But fiction is my first love.)

During the signing period, I got to talk to several people, some of whom had been to Morocco, and I wanted to mention in particular one guy who served in the Navy a few years ago. He was on deck when his ship passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, and he saw some harraga being stopped by Moroccan and Spanish coast guards. I also loved meeting four college students who were interning in Washington for the summer. I have no idea how they heard about my reading, but here are some photos they posted. I signed some extra copies at the store, so if you missed the reading, here’s your chance to get them from a cool independent.