Rabih Alameddine loves to tell stories, all sorts of them. Stories about intimate sexual experiences, about twisted family gatherings and even ancient ones about an Arabian prince who failed to have a son.
And just like his diverse and multifaceted stories, this Lebanese American fiction and essay writer juggles various identities that he hates to label.
Alameddine, 48, is an openly gay writer, but that's not how he'd like to be categorized. He quickly adds that he also happens to be a writer with a hairy chest, and that he loves to play soccer.
Born in Jordan in an upper-middle-class Lebanese family, he was raised between Kuwait and Lebanon. He went to the United Kingdom then to the United States after the civil war broke out in 1975, shifting his career from engineering to painting and writing along the way.
Today, Alameddine lives between San Francisco and Beirut, where he was recently promoting his new novel, "The Hakawati," or "The Storyteller."
Alameddine, also wrote the novels "Koolaids," and "I, the Divine," sat down for an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles Times: Your new book follows an old tradition in Arabic literature. Yet, what you present is a modern vision of the Arabian nights that seems more subversive and more overt. What is the book really about?
Rabih Alameddine: I am fascinated about how families start, where they come from.... In a large measure, the book is the stories I tell myself about myself. Those include personal stories.... Some are true, others are not true. But they are also stories that I tell about my family, how I fit among my family and my friends. There are stories that I tell also about my culture whether in the U.S. or Lebanon. It is the meeting of these stories that define a person, relationships and who we are as people. And that’s what I am interested in.