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Writer’s questionaire: Tahar Ben Jelloun

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Describe yourself in three words

Punctual, feather-light, spring-like (my mood).

When and where do you write?

I write in the morning, wherever I find myself.

Who’s your favourite literary character?

Don Quixote, because he makes me dream of travel and let’s me travel with him…

What’s more difficult: starting or finishing a novel?

Most difficult is to write a novel with the same rigour from start to finish.

If you were not a writer, what would you do?

I would be a public reader in squares and cafés.

Recommend a book?

I recommend reading Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo – to bang your head against a fantastic imaginary world that gives you vertigo.

Complete this phrase: “I got off the train in Berlin and standing on the platform was…”

…Franz Kafka clothed in a brown, woollen djellaba carrying a suitcase made of cardboard, held by old ropes, and looking for the exit he can’t find. He’s going in circles, trying to ask his way. Nobody answers him, so he gets back into the train and sets off toward the unknown, deep into the starless night, a white book in his hands, when two men in trench coats materialise in front of him and tell him: “Follow us.” He asks why, and then a gun painted red is pointed at him. He gets up from his seat and takes his suitcase, which opens up. Out of the suitcase fall books, handwritten pages and an onion, which he brings to his nostrils in order to prevent himself from entirely collapsing.