If you are not, then you are put aside. What about the theater? Was there a tradition of theater in Beirut? There was a man who would read from The Thousand and One Nights. The theater in Lebanon at the time was mainly translated plays, especially French plays. I said I could try and I wrote three plays. I loved them, especially the Egyptian movies. We had to sneak and lie and pretend we were going somewhere else, and then we would go to the movie. I want to talk to them. I think when I wrote The Story of Zahra it was like making a French movie in a way, especially the scene between the sniper and Zahra.
Yes, a Godard movie: So you grew up in Beirut, which has been changed so much. Would you like to say a little about what it was like in those days? The Beirut I knew—it is always in my mind—was rich, amazing. The streets were crowded with people—the vendors, the mosques, churches, and synagogues were all bustling. I come from a very, very pious family. But at the same time, Lebanon and Beirut were so open. We used to feel so free. We would get all the cultures, all the schools. We had English schools, American schools, French schools, universities, everything. It was dramatically changed because of the civil war.
The spirit is no more. So many people came to take revenge in Beirut or to help the Lebanese destroy their city. Many nationalities of many countries helped us destroy our city. I miss it so much. I miss the old city. My father had a tiny shop downtown in Beirut that I used to visit every day. Can you imagine a family with their daughter at nine or ten years old going from our district to downtown in half an hour? There were many Arabs from Syria, Iraq, Egypt even, who, because of their regimes, used to come take refuge in Beirut.
Nowadays, it is nothing like that. The literary scene is gone. People used to call this wonderful, famous city the Paris of the East. Is the vineyard still there? Is there any sign now of rebirth in the aftermath of the conflict?
Is there any sign of this world coming back to life—the literary world, for example? Or the spirit of the city, as you were saying? Not now, I think. But Lebanon is facing a very crucial time. They are at a crossroads over what happened after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The Story of Zahra is an extraordinary book. The first half has to do with intimate dangers. Yes, in a strife. And the second half has to do with the strife outside?
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I wanted to show how society treated unfortunate women. I started thinking, What went wrong in Lebanon? It was as if the war had a big X-ray machine and we were entering one Lebanese after the other into this X-ray machine and seeing each other for the first time. What do we consist of? Our society, our ideas, our ideals—everything has to be questioned.
I felt how the old traditions dealt with womanhood, how they dealt with men who were very prominent and very free. On the surface, it was a very open society, but deep down there were many, many issues: So I thought, This is what I want to do. He works on the tram lines. She is a person who was abused as a girl, which deranges her in a certain way, and then she comes into this world of larger derangement.
In the beginning, she thinks the war is freeing her, helping her, because there is no father anymore. For the first time, she can really look at herself and think, I am a human being, I am an individual, I can do whatever I want. But I think Zahra was a very prodigious girl because she said no to many things and she became more trapped because she was saying no to her father and her society.
You deal very explicitly with what is normally hidden in many Muslim countries—explicit treatment of sexuality and sexual relations. It had to do with the war; the war fed me as well. When the war broke out in Lebanon, and when I started writing Zahra , I felt free. What brought us to this war? Why are we in this bloody war?
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One night she passes a boutique with a sign touting a sale. Behind the counter a gypsy woman pulls for her a dress. Magically the dress transforms her body to a size six and she emerges from the dressing room a knock out. And the special bonus section: Read more Read less. Enabled Similar books to Sensuality: Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser.
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English Choose a language for shopping. Not Enabled Word Wise: That day is also the day I sat down and started the first short story in The Sensuality Series as a way to flirt with my then boyfriend who lived in North Carolina. Each story I wrote got me a plane ticket and within three months I had my first book. I realized after the reviews that I have a gift for pulling emotions out through words. Writing erotica was how I discovered this but it wasn't until the mids when I joined forces with a journalist in the Middle East, that this talent really matured.
Our articles on the humanitarian conditions in the Middle East, combining his on the ground interviews with my ability to create a theater in people's minds and place them in the middle of the story gained us substantial praise from human rights groups and got us a lot of enemies from the people we exposed.
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It also lead to a number of awards for our work and policy changes on an international level. About the same time, because of and my increased work reporting on the Middle East, I rediscovered my own faith, Christianity and I became increasingly alarmed at its being used as a weapon of hate, segregation, war and reason to oppress others.
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This lead me into my philanthropic activities, working with people of all faiths seeking peace, an end of apartheid throughout the world and equal rights for all people, no matter who they are, what they believe or where they come from. As my writing gained readership I found myself invited to other countries to work and learn about other cultures.
I also found that supporting human rights is admirable to everyone but those abusing them so I collected some enemies along the way as well. I've also assisted on an upcoming non-fiction book about economics, oil and world affairs due out in called Ultimate Betrayal and have an work-in-progress manuscript about doing business in Saudi Arabia for Westerners.
In addition I've written over articles on various subjects ranging from relationships and sexuality to the Gaza Strip, Middle East and technology. Like I said, I have lots of interests and I just love telling stories and educating people. What I can tell you is this. Whether I'm writing non-fiction about politics, employment, cultures and humanitarian issues, children's stories capturing human values with pictures under a pseudonym or sexy little stories I won't let my parents read, my work will always be surprising, human, educational and different.
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