Posted by: jbwuk | January 2, 2012

JBW Interviews: Chochana Boukhobza

Chochana Boukhobza is a francophone writer who was born in Sfax, Tunisia. She left it for Paris when she was four but moved to Israel when she was 17, studying mathematics but leading a fairly wild life. Yet she couldn’t forgive the country the many wars that took too many loved ones away and eventually moved back to France. Israel remains the place she flies back to whenever she feels down.
Her nomadic life has made her into an exiled. “The difference between a foreigner and an exiled is that the exiled cannot go back. To be exiled is to be something and then to lose that identity.”
Yet she feels no nostalgia. Memories and fiction are her true home and she revisits and reinvents Israel in her work. She carries in her three languages, three cultures, layers of memories passed on to her from several generations and thousands of stories.
She is the author of nine novels, the first of which Un été à Jérusalem (A Summer in Jerusalem) won the Prix Mediterranée in 1986. Her second novel Le Cri was a finalist for the 1987 Prix Femina. She has also written several screenplays. In 2005, she co-directed a documentary Un billet aller-retour (A Return Ticket) (Barcelona-Paris Films Productions).
She is coming to JBW to discuss her first novel to be translated into English, The Third Day,  a thrilling story set in Jerusalem over three tense days in which a young musician and her mentor come from the US to give a concert. It turns out the trip forces one woman to face her decision to leave Israel, her Mizrahi parents and her friends and is an excuse for the older woman to settle her accounts with a Nazi.
Don’t miss her on Wednesday 22 February at 1.00 pm. We pride ourselves at JBW to bring you new voices. Her talent has been more than proven in France and we are delighted that she is at long last published in English. Here is her interview:
          If you could escape to another world, what would there be that is missing here?
 FREEDOM AND EQUALITY
          What is the book you “inherited” from a parent or teacher that made a profound impression on you?
THE BIBLE
 
          What is the book you would like to pass on to the future generation?
 THE TALMUD
          What is the most Jewish thing you have ever done?
TO KEEP ASKING MYSELF QUESTIONS EVERY MINUTE OF MY LIFE
 
          What is the most important Jewish book of the last 60 years?
VASSILI GROSSMAN’S LIFE AND FATE
 
          When did you know you would become a writer?
WHEN I UNDERSTOOD THAT LIFE IS AN EXILE
 
          If you were not a writer, what would you be?
A MASON
 
          What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
 GO ON
          What would your superpower be?
THE STRENGTH TO RESIST
 
          Who (living or dead) would you invite to your ideal Friday night dinner?
CHARLIE CHAPLIN
 
          On the very distant day when you will make it to the other side, what would you like God (assuming there is one) to say to you?
GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN
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Responses

  1. This writer sounds absolutely fascinating and perhaps I would not have noticed her if you had not drawn her to my notice with the blog. I certainly intend to both go to session and to read her book. Chochana Boukhobza is just the kind of writer one hopes to discover at JBW. I recommend her session to others. Come and find out about someone new and interesting who is travelling specially to London to tell us about her book and herself. The book will be available in English only at JBW – hot off the press.


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