The Center for Fiction Presents: Zein El-Amine and Hala Alyan on Love and War
The Center for Fiction is thrilled to welcome writers Zein El-Amine and Hala Alyan to discuss their beautifully insightful stories of complex human experience under the shadow of war. In Zein El-Amine’s Is This How You Eat a Watermelon?, he invites readers into a world where love, war, and trauma collide with the desire to consume life—or be consumed by it. In seven short stories spanning war-torn Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, a hedonistic man eats himself to an early death with the desecration of the city of Beirut forming the backdrop, a young man, a young woman, and a mistreated monkey unite in a bid to survive, and fresh snow compels a sacrilegious undertaking from a father much to the shock of his children. The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan (Salt Houses) is a personal look at the legacy of war in the Middle East and an indelible rendering of how we hold on to the people and places we call home; In Beirut, amidst the changing landscape of refugees, religious tension, and political protest, The Nasr Family wrestles with their own secrets—lost loves, bitter jealousies, abandoned passions, deep-set shame. Lambda Literary Award winner Zeyn Joukhadar moderates this conversation on survival, love, sorrow, betrayal, and joy.