Dutch Wrap Up

I had set my novel aside during the hectic move to Casablanca, and when I picked it up again a few weeks ago and reread it, I noticed a strong satirical element throughout. Then I was invited to the Winternachten literary festival, and I was asked if I could take part in a two-day workshop on… satire. It’s perhaps only a coincidence. But I think writing a novel is a bit like converting to a new religion; one starts to see signs everywhere. The workshop became a sign of something the universe was trying to tell me–that I should embrace the satirical element, maybe. It’s all a bit silly, really. Still, the first two days I spent in the Hague proved extremely useful, and made me see a bit more clearly what I am trying to do in my work. (The amusing bit is that we couldn’t even agree on a good definition of satire beyond “We know it when we see it.”)

After the workshop, I met with my Dutch editor, did a few press interviews, and hung out with a good friend of mine. I also read from Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits in front of a packed house at Theater aan het Spui. Abdelkader Benali was a great, tough interviewer, and he asked me questions about the book that I don’t think I’ve been asked at any of my readings in the US. I had a wonderful, wonderful time. I even managed to steal some time away to go visit the Vermeers that were on display at Maurithuis, a wonderful little museum in the Hague. The most inspiring element of the whole trip was being surrounded by so many Moroccan and Dutch Moroccan writers, poets, musicians, and artists. I felt so energized and ready to take on the world–or at least the rest of my novel.

I am now in Paris for a couple of days, doing some interviews for the French edition of Hope. More soon, I hope.