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Yasmina Hatem

10 questions for Nasri Atallah

Nasri Atallah of "Our Man in Beirut"

1. Describe "Our Man in Beirut" in one sentence:

It started as a blog, ended up as a book, and basically encapsulates the three years I spent in Beirut trying to understand what it meant to be Lebanese, but not really.

 

2. What parts of yourself come from your British upbringing?
Probably my dry sense of humor, my agnosticism and my absolute love of orderly queues.

 

3. And what parts are from your Lebanese side?
Overt love of family and friends. Oh, and my facial hair.

 

4. How did you decide to let go of your career in finance and focus on writing?
It wasn’t that big of a decision really. I got into finance because it was what everyone around me was doing, but I wasn’t particularly good at it. Then the crisis hit, so I figured I’d quit before they realized how useless I was.

 

5. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m setting up a new publishing company, based out of New York, with my colleagues and partners at Keeward. The publishing house’s first project involves bringing together authors from around the world who were brought up in a country that wasn’t their parents'. We want to create a strong community and publish the work of these “third-culture kid” creatives.

 

6. Can we expect another book soon?
I’ve gotten side-tracked this year because of the publishing project, but I’m itching to get back to writing my second book.

 

7. What kind? A collection of writings, a novel...?
I’m writing a novel this time. It’s very different from Our Man in Beirut. It takes place mainly in mid-2000s London amid the excesses of the Eurotrash scene there. Lots of sex, money, murder, deceit and cynicism. It’s like Gossip Girl meets American Psycho, but poorly written.

 

8. You've been accused of being cynical. Do you see yourself that way?
Sure I do. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I’m happy I’m cynical. A lot of people confuse cynicism with negativity. I’m actually a very positive person, and love the way the world works. Cynicism is just knowing how the world works.

 

9. What is your ultimate goal in your career?
If I can keep making a living writing, and publishing others who write, and being involved in music and all forms of creativity, like I’ve been lucky enough to be over the last couple of years, then I’ll continue to be happy.

 

10. What's your motto? In life and in work.
Know your place in the world, know what you still need to achieve, do it with a smile and be kind to others.

 

Check out Nasri’s blog at www.ourmaninbeirut.com and follow him on Twitter @NasriAtallah

Nasri Atallah of "Our Man in Beirut" (Image courtesy of Nasri Atallah)

Know your place in the world, know what you still need to achieve, do it with a smile and be kind to others."