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fashion he would lose his credibility, especially since people know their reality even though the writer presents that reality to them augmented by the work of his imagination. It is this imagination, despite its importance and its risks, which is neglected and rejected in the Arab literary tradition. I realized from the beginning that reality itself is continuously changing so that a Damascus street one year would be different the next, and I decided that, from the artistic point of view, it is better to present the content without the façade, even though most of my stories ignored the names of streets or cities.

I also believed that writing a story is like the work of many chefs. They use the same basic ingredients, but the results are different – every dish is different from the next, some are delicious, some are disgusting. I have always strived for my dishes to be of the delicious kind, but I don’t know to what degree I have succeeded.

Here, I have to stress that from my early beginnings I did not attempt to innovate, but was adamant about writing truthfully, expressing as best as I could what I felt and my personal point of view about life and human beings, keeping my distance from the literary, artistic or intellectual fads and fashions that flood the literary arena and preoccupy writers. Of course, I have always been cautious about imitating other writers, despite my conviction that a writer, regardless of his talent, does not grow in a vacuum; but I can say that I have benefited from the experiences of all the writers who have preceded me, and that their work has been the solid ground that I stood on, ready to start my own personal journey.

It’s ironic that I have never read any books on the art of story writing, and I have never regretted that because I was convinced that if I had read such books I would not have been able to write as I did. And it so happened that after publishing four books I did read just such a book and discovered that what I had written violated all the requirements for writing a successful story that were suggested in the book.

Is it true that the Lebanese poet and editor Yusuf al-Khal was involved in helping to publish The Neighing of the White Horse in 1960?

The Palestinian critic Salma Khadra al-Jayyusi was an admirer of my writing and always insisted that I collect my stories published

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 119

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