Monday, September 18, 2017

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews (the "5Q Interviews": five questions for all) with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down (sometimes remotely) with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Hajar Bali, a playwright, fiction writer and poet from Algeria. 

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

My first plan is to write, to finish a novel that I spent too much time writing and re-writing. Maybe, if I have time, I also plan to write a short play.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

I like to write early in the morning, or very late in the night. When I can listen to the silence around me. I sometimes listen to soft music, with a cup of tea. I also need to be not too far from the frig and eat chocolate or cheese.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

When I write seriously I read different books, not the same every day, because I feel that I'm going to be influenced. Right now, I'm reading 3 books: one French book called "Burn Out" which is like a documentary about people who are in depression because they don't find work. The second book is in Arabic, it is a poetry book whose subject is the sea. The third one translated from the Brazilian in French is a book writen in1977 by Clarice Lispector (Cerca del corazon salvaje). This last writer is my favorite for the moment. 

4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

Only that I am at the same time very curious and very shy. In my writings, I try to go deep inside myself. I want to be honest as possible, even if this means to show some ugliness. This is, for me, the only way to being human. 

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

I live in Algiers (Algeria) with my old father (he is 99 years old). My best friend is a filmmaker, I always work in his films, in the continuity. I read his scripts and he reads my writings. We are uncompromising the one with the other. Algiers is my principle source of inspiration. The sea, the light, and the people with all their contradictions and history.  


Thank you so much, Hajar!