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Segue 12: Fall 2014  ||  James Chaarani


about the author


James Chaarani’s work has appeared in the Blue Lyra Review, Instinct, Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and Fab Magazine. His play, “Everybody’s Whore,” was named “Best Bet” by Eye Weekly Toronto, and his interactive narrative, Painting the Myth, received a Gold National Post DX Award. Lethe Press will publish his first novel in August 2015.


about the work


Both of my parents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon during the Civil War, after witnessing unspeakable cruelty and instability. Violence and death were recurring themes in their lives, and the lives of many Lebanese people. I was born in Canada but I’d traveled to Lebanon on my own a few years back and lived there for a year to get in touch with my roots. “What Mother Taught Me” was inspired by my experiences there, as well as my parents’ stories and the stories of people that I met there. This story was initially about Samira living in modern day Trablos as an adult. She was a widow herself, shamed by the illegal actions of her late husband. As I started exploring her childhood through flashbacks, I became fascinated by this young girl I was creating and soon the story shifted so it was solely about her experiences as a child with her¬†widowed mother.

Living in Lebanon made it very easy for me to write about the country and the mentality of the people: their hopes and fears. I also connected with the landscape, in particular the mountain region. I went on several hikes while I was there. The most difficult part was writing in the voice of a young girl, and to understand what a mother-daughter relationship is all about. To get this right, I got the opinion of many female friends and bounced ideas off them. This was followed by many rewrites.

For me, writing literary fiction is all about connecting with an emotion, an idea, or some type of philosophy. It’s a form of expression and exploration that helps me understand the world around me by diving into certain themes and characters.








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