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her healing. Basma is transformed into a Shahrazad who treats her pain by telling her own story, just as Shahrazad treated her beloved Shahriyar by telling him other people’s stories. Nevertheless, Basma doesn’t meet her listener in the novel.Will she meet him? We don’t know. The answer to this question would require another novel. As Basma says at the end of the book: “Love holds many possibilities.” KT: Every one of your novels is a hymn to love, an expression of longing for love and a call to embrace it.Tell us a bit about the title ‘An Ta'ashaq al-Hayah’ – ‘To Love Life’.What’s the secret behind it?

AS: ‘To Love Life’ means being implicated in life, glowing with life, letting life fill you. It means feeling the tremendous power of joy, resisting illness, riding out the bumps in life’s road. Passion for life gives us all this beauty, and a sense of pride in our existence. It makes us feel alive. Nobody with a passion for life can be a religious fundamentalist. But it’s a passion that’s quite costly in our societies. To love life means to pay a price.

If Basma didn’t love life with a passion, she wouldn’t be able to triumph over her illness. Her passion for life is what seals her victory. Likewise, my own passion for life is what has enabled me to write, to recover my memory and my body. On the personal level, I’m someone who believes in love, and I’m filled with love for all things beautiful. Life has no meaning without love, whether in the sense of romantic passion or of simple platonic goodwill. I believe in love’s ability to heal not just this or that illness, but all of humanity. In this respect, I believe heartily in the expressions of Christianity that focus on the concept of love in the humanitarian sense. My own experience in life has taught me that anyone who lacks love is incomplete. Love really does heal many conditions. It heals bitterness, hatred, despair, envy, fanaticism and all things ugly. Love changes the details of both the person who loves with a passion, and the object of that love. Love changes everything. In the words of my protagonist, Basma: “I’m a passionate lover of life, a passionate lover of art.”

Translated by Nancy Roberts

BANIPAL 70 – SPRING 2021 77

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