Abbas El-Zein Interview

5 Mar, 2014 by

Abbas El-Zein Interview

Abbas El-Zein was born and raised in Buiret, living there through most of the Lebanese Civil War – a tragic conflict that saw over a hundred thousands deaths and led to almost a million people leaving the country, including, by the end, Abbas himself. These days, after years spent in France and England, Abbas is a lecturer in environmental engineering at the University of Sydney, examining issues of environmental geomechanics, environmental risk, and climate change. These two parts of his life set the background for his work as an author.

In 2001, Abbas published his first novel, Tell the Running Water, set in Beirut and around the war. In 2010 he returned to Beirut in a more personal sense – telling the story of his own life in his NSW Premier’s Prize winning memoir: Leave to Remain. Now he has published a collection of short stories: The Secret Maker of the World. The characters in these stories are driven, challenged by life, circumstance, violence, or themselves, and Abbas does a wonderful job of bringing us, briefly, into their lives.

Abbas spoke to Sky Kirkham about conflict, morality and loss. Originally broadcast on 27/03/14. The Secret Maker of the World is out through UQP.


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