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Introducing our longlisted authors: Rabih Alameddine

Rabih Alameddine cr Oliver Wasow.jpgView larger
Rabih Alameddine. Photograph by Oliver Wasow

Meet the authors longlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award


Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, and I, the Divine, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman, The Angel of History, the story collection, The Perv. His next novel, The Wrong End of the Telescopewill be published by Corsair in Fall of 2021. He divides his time between his bedroom and his living room.


In summer, our neighborhood quiets in phases. The quieting begins in May. Schools give their older kids, the seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds, a month off to prepare for the baccalaureate exams. Following a ritual as old as our parents, the students retreat to residences out of town, to peaceful chalets and cabins away from civilization for communal study and living. As noisily as migrating birds, they return for the state exams in June. Then school ends for the year; a couple of families travel abroad, a few more leave for the mountains. An outsider doesn’t perceive the slow but sure change in the neighborhood’s population until Beirut broils in August.


What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

Like most writers, I include some things from personal experience but for the most part, it’s invented. The July War was both traumatic and surreal for most Lebanese. I wanted to write about the coming of age of a boy experiencing the insanity of it. What are teenage hormones compared to those of war?

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

The witty and hackneyed answer to the first question is that the difference between the two is the number of words. I enjoy writing short stories because of the restriction they impose on how one tells a story. I have a mind that has a tendency to wander, and these restrictions/constrictions are somehow meditative.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

I type. Always have. Even back when I was a student, I used electric typewriters.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

Too many! How about Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li or Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon?

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

So many, so many, but I’d pick Sherwood Anderson’s Hands. I’d bring back Richard Burton from the dead to read it!

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Idris Elba, of course.

What are you reading now?

Claudia Rankine’s Just Us.

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