” ‘Death is hard work’ but life is just as troublesome!” FAZ interviews Khaled Khalifa as his novel “There are no knives in the kitchens of the city” is about to get published in Germany

16 April 2020 158 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

KhaledKhalifa-C-ImagoInterviewed by Lena Bopp for FAZ, April 13, 2020

In his novels, Khaled Khalifa goes to court with the Syrian regime. Nevertheless, the writer still lives in Damascus and voluntarily returns to his home country from every trip abroad. How can that be?


A long time ago, when the virus was still unknown in Lebanon […] Khaled Khalifa sat in the “T-Marbouta” [café] and joked: “This is my office today.” A restaurant near the campus the American University of Beirut with shelves full of books and set tables with everything that Lebanese cuisine has to offer. Khaled Khalifa had a couple of hours. He didn’t have to be at the airport until the afternoon; he had a transit visa for Lebanon, a border which he is reluctant to cross. This was revealed by his worried look when he spoke of the airport, where Syrians like him are always eyed suspiciously and rarely treated well.
In the morning Khalifa had gotten into a taxi in Damascus. He had paid the driver the equivalent of a hundred dollars and left far ahead of time, because the journey to Beirut usually only takes three hours, but in these times of war, you never know how long you would be on the closely guarded border between Lebanon and Syria is stopped. If he would arrive in the “T-Marbouta” later than midday, Khalifa had previously written, he would report. This time he was lucky. Nevertheless, the writer declines every second invitation to a literary festival or reading, especially in Europe and the United States. “It’s too difficult,” he says with a laugh and quotes the title of one of his novels: “‘Death is a tedious business’. But life is just as troublesome. “

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