I had the opportunity to meet Moroccan author Laila Lalami face-to-face the other day in Washington, and I must say that she is extremely admirable and more impressive in the flesh than in cyberspace. She was in Washington, DC this past Thursday to read some excerpts from her debut novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (signed copies link), which I read several months back and liked very much. I enjoyed her reading immensely as I did the discussions that followed. Lalami eloquently managed to answer every question directed at her, the majority of which came from euroarabe.
One question someone asked was who she has in mind as her audience when she writes. Her reply was simply: "I write for myself. I am my ideal audience." I thought the answer was brilliant because as an aspiring fiction writer myself I tend to fall into the trap of thinking a great deal about my audience, something that can sometimes make me feel mentally impotent. I end up failing to jot down anything for fear of retribution from a certain individual or a group. I think I will try her method and think solely of myself when I write.
It was also fascinating for me to see the large amount of her blog readers who showed up at the event. She got a great deal of praise for her blog from the audience with one describing her site as "the best literary blog out there." Following the reading, I had a quick but pleasant chat with Laila in which we exchanged compliments and pleasantries and took a couple of pictures. The husband and I wrapped up the evening with a nice dinner in DuPont Circle with some wonderful friends, including Basboos, Leilouta and her husband, euroarabe, and another non-blogger friend of ours. All in all it was a perfect day in the city.