What was the last book that you read that you would recommend to readers?
Beard on Uncle Milad’s Table, a novel by Libyan author Mohamed Alnaas
Have you read any classics lately that you are reading for the first time?
No, not lately, but over the years I have read every classic book I could find that was translated into my native Arabic language.
Do you re-read books? If yes, what was the last book that you read again?
I did re-read the book God Help the Child by Toni Morrison in English for the first time. I originally read an Arabic translation.
What are your favorite genres of literature?
I enjoy biographies!
What is your favorite childhood book?
What books are on your bedside table right now?
My book (War and Me)
Do you bookmark your page, or do you fold the corner of a page (dogear) to keep track of where you left off reading?
I use a metal book separator; it has a butterfly on the end.
What is your ideal reading setting?
A quiet place.
Tell us about your favorite independent bookstore?
I adore Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood, NJ and Inkwood Books in Haddonfield, NJ.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I felt the power of language when I needed it to express to the doctor the symptoms that my child experienced when she got sick.
What literary travels have you gone on?
I visited the house of the poet Walt Whitman in Camden and the house of the writer Edgar Allan Poe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I even dared to travel into the basement where he wrote his horrific story, “The Black Cat!”
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
From my memory and my personal experience
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing gives me adventurous energy and excitement!
How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
Right now, I have two unpublished books – a collection of poetry and an unfinished novel.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good reviews?
Yes, I do read all the reviews, and I like both the good and bad reviews because that means someone read my book. The really bad thing is when the reader ignores your book by not writing any review of it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her, travel more, enjoy your life more, and write more.
When you are not reading or writing, what are you doing?
I’m a mom of two teenage kids, and so I live a very busy life!
What are your three favorite things right now?
Reading, writing, and watching movies.
Where is your favorite travel destination, and why?
I want to go to the Great Wall in China because I have heard so many stories about the wall and how so many people sacrificed their lives in order to build it.
What’s your favorite meal and drink order?
I love Iraqi food. Now I want to eat dolma with yogurt and dates!
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
I would invite to the dinner party my mom, my dad, Oprah Winfrey, T.S. Eliot, Yanni, and my friend Emily Vosseller.
If a movie was made of your life, which genre would it be and which actress would play you?
The movie would be realistic, and the actor would be Queen Latifah.
What is the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
I loved the Ghosts of War movie and Midnight in Paris.
You have to sing karaoke. What song do you pick?
I would sing “Leave the Door Open” by Bruno Mars
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could bring only one book, what would it be?
The Holy Quran would be the only book I would take to this island.