Interview: Selma Dabbagh - author of Out of It

Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It - interview

The debut author answers questions about her first book, about a family struggling to survive in war-torn Gaza

Give us five words to describe Out of It?
Girl. Gun. Boy. Sea. Fence.

What was the last book you read?
I have spent the last three days in the mood of Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. A brownish, fuggy, alcoholic London novel set in 1939, it is written delicately but has a strong draw. I’m finding it difficult to shake off its interior doubt and pain.

Which book makes you cry?
The pathos of the yellow crescent shapes stitched onto the uniforms of the Ibo separatist soldiers in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The anguish and apparent futility of the yearnings for dignity, statehood and a better deal in life symbolized by these badges was what did it. Or possibly it was the realization of the potentially crushing nature of hope that they encapsulated?

Which book makes you laugh?
There are lines from Evelyn Waugh (Men at Arms, Scoop) that make me giggle years later. He can be deliciously silly. For example, a group of ‘progressive writers’ trying to hose down their club during the Blitz and a man whose association with the countryside is the word ‘bang’ because he once experienced a freak farmyard explosion in the home counties. Politically, Waugh is not my cup of tea at all, but the talent he possessed to transport laughter posthumously through decades, if not centuries, is a wondrous thing indeed.

What plans do you have for book number two?
I plan for it to be desperately successful.

Out of It is published by Bloomsbury on Mon 5 Dec.

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