THE SHORT STORIES OF ZAKARIA TAMER
lications such as, most recently, the distinguished Al-Naqid magazine. Your fingerprints are prominent in the editorial world.
All the newspapers for which I worked were official or semi-official. As for Al-Naqid (The Critic) it was the first independent magazine I worked for. I thought that what justified publishing a literary magazine was giving a chance to those with genuine talent to be published, and that is why I did not care about the writer’s name but only his/her work. The great author is the one with a good product. I used to edit almost all the magazine’s texts. I would read each manuscript, correct it, and when I submitted it for publication the principal condition was that it had a great deal of high quality writing. I used to correct grammar and change titles sometimes to make a work more reflective of its theme and more attractive in a journalistic sense.
As for the drawings in Al-Naqid I followed a system I had used in Damascus when I was the editor-in-chief of the weekly children’s magazine Rafi’. Because of limited time I would go to the artist and ask him to draw whatever he pleased, and after that I would take the artwork and use it as an inspiration to write stories. I used to write the whole magazine almost entirely by myself, including the puzzle pages. The poet Sulaiman al-Issa would provide two features and I would do the rest. This style, which grew out of necessity, was the same one I used with Al-Naqid. I would tell the artist to draw what came to his mind and then I would choose the art pieces appropriate to each manuscript since I had read them all carefully and had experience of the harmony needed between the script and the drawing. Al-Naqid writers could not hide their amazement and admiration at how deeply the artist seemed able to understand their manuscripts.
Last question: do you have a new book?
I have a new book, which has been published by Jadawil Publishers in Beirut and is entitled The Land of Misery., It is a series of satirical essays that, I think, are directed against oppression and oppressors.
This interview was published in Arabic in Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed Cultural Supplement of 7 February 2015. It is published here in Banipal 53 in English translation with the kind permission of Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed.
132 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015