Farah’s Revisions?

Though I have attended author lectures before, I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to follow along as the author read aloud the way I did at Nurridin Furah’s presentation last night. His explanations about the text and his process were fascinating, but I was most interested in the on-the-spot revisions he made while reading. He mentioned before proceeding that he would be “writing as he reads”, but did not explain the purpose of these revisions or where he intended them to appear other than in this specific lecture. On the whole, his changes were not significant- he omitted a few lines and phrases and made minor changes in word choice. Some changes that stood out to me in particular were in the scene where the Shabab soldiers enter into Dhoore’s home.

In the reading, Farah replaced almost every mention of Dhoore’s name with “the old man.” I took this to simply be a poetic revision. Beginning the sentence on a soft syllable (the) rather than a hard syllable (Dho-) is better suited for the tone and structure of this passage. It is also possible that Farah switched to “the old man” so as not to confuse the audience by making them follow another character name. The other most noticeable change in this section was the omission of “keffiyah-wearing” in the description of the soldiers. At first, I thought this might be Farah again catering to the audience. He might have assumed that many audience members would not be familiar with the keffiyah and did not want to take time to explain it. However, the significance of the term in this passage and throughout the text makes me think otherwise. In the text, Farrah distinguishes between the different colors and the styles in which the men where the keffiyah. The word even appears in the synopsis on the back on the book, where even someone brand new to the book could find it and infer its meaning. This leads me to believe that Farah was responding to how Islam and symbols of Islam such as the keffiyah have been taken up by the media and by various factions in the Middle East and Africa. While it would only take a second to explain what a keffiyah is, a simple explanation would disguise the complex historical and contemporary issues surrounding the keffiyah and Muslim identity.

Anyone else have any guesses as to what motivated his revisions?

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