Young Alaa As Aswany’s “garden full of flowers” had Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Marquez and Hemingway growing in it.
Question: Who were the early influences on your craft?
al Aswany: Well, it’s a garden full of flowers, you see, because I had a very early French education. I learned French and Arabic in the same day, and I was raised in a French school, so we had all the great French writers. We did study this very early, and also I had a very strong influence by the Arab writers through my father, then there are also the big, the masters of the Russian literature who influenced me really very, very, very strongly. They had a very strong influence on me, like a Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, who was a physician, by the way, and I had, I also learned Spanish, so I read in Spanish, and I have all these great Latin American writers, like Gabriel Garcia, especially Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Borges, and many others. [I] had a very strong influence on me, especially by Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway, but especially Ernest Hemingway. I think, and I learned through the style of Hemingway how to write what is really necessary, what to say, exactly what you want to say, not less and not more.