Weam Namou's Response to Readers' Comments on her novel" the Feminine Art"

The Feminine Art September 2010 book club selection.  

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read the Arabic version of The Feminine Art, which I myself have not been able to read due to some language barriers. I have, however, heard from those who read both the English and the Arabic version that in the translation my voice was lost. That’s unfortunate, since that’s where the essence of a book lies – in the author’s original thoughts, personal feelings and particular way of seeing things and interpreting them.

Having read the reviews, I think what happened is that through the Arabic version people read the words but didn’t have the chance to feel the story or connect to the author. And while it’s true I do focus on details, again it’s the author’s voice that makes the difference on whether a character, event or description sounds mundane or not. My work and its comic tone has been compared by a number of Americans to that of Jane Austin, who places importance on little matters—as Emma says, “on which the daily happiness of private life depends.”

I completed The Feminine Art in 1996, at age 26 and loved the entire two year process that it took to write the manuscript, not only because it was the first novel which received the literary attention I had been seeking, but because it was a great opportunity for me to share the non-stereotypical, true-life stories of the people and culture that I love and grew up with.

While I’ve truly enjoyed writing novels, my work over the years has switched to non-fiction, scriptwriting, and filmmaking. The 2003 war and starting a family led me into writing shorter pieces such as poetry and essays and somehow along the way I ended up doing journalism – well, it’s all part of a writer’s life, isn’t it? Or what I’d rather call myself, a storyteller – since I use so many different mediums to share my thoughts and ideas.

Today, while I am still working on funding my first feature film, Green Card Wedding, I’ve directed a documentary called Living Tribal in a Democracy which sheds light on a family of strong and independent Iraqi-born women’s adjustments from a tribal lifestyle to a western one. And currently, I’m working on The Great American Family, a documentary about Dawn Hanna, a woman who’s serving a 6 year prison term. She and her family are fighting to get justice for her. http://www.justice4dawnhanna.com/

The documentary will be released on her website in short increments until Dawn’s appeal date arrives (intended in the beginning of 2011). The first short documentary piece of The Great American Family, which includes the CIA operative’s phone interview, will hopefully be up by the first week of November. To view some promo clips, you can visit this link: http://www.justice4dawnhanna.com/promoclips/

And finally, aside from my more personal projects like a memoir, poetry and essays, I’m working with Dawn and her family on a book about their story.

Maybe in the near future, the readers of ArabBookWorld and I will re-connect through yet another book or project.


Weam Namou