Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Dimitri Nasrallah

September 12, 2022

Dimitri Nasrallah

Dimitri Nasrallah’s novel Hotline has been longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Dimitri Nasrallah is the author of four novels. He was born in Lebanon in 1977, and lived in Kuwait, Greece, and Dubai before moving to Canada. His internationally acclaimed books have garnered nominations for CBC Canada Reads, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, and won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the McAuslan First Book Prize. He is the fiction editor at Véhicule Press.

What/who inspires you to write?

I am inspired by the authenticity of life experiences siphoned and crystallized over time. For Hotline, the image of yellow diet-plan food boxes that I first encountered at 11 years old stayed with me for over three decades before opening a door into my mother’s story of arrival into Canada.

Where is your favourite place to write?

At home, at the comfort of my desk, early in the morning when the day is still free from distraction.

Is there an activity you do to help inspire your writing?

The only inspiration I need is a set word count for the day and a couple hours to roam freely on the page.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?

I close the file and immediately email it to myself, just in case anything should happen to my computer. I’ve had the misfortune of losing sections of books on computers that broke down before, and I can’t have that happen again.

What are you reading now?

Right now I am reading and editing manuscripts in my role as Véhicule Press’s fiction editor.

What would your job be if you weren’t an author?

I would probably be the university instructor I am now when I am not writing.

What inspired you to write your Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated book?

As I noted in the acknowledgement to Hotline, this story is loosely inspired by my family’s first year in Canada in the 80s, and especially my mother’s situation. We were accepted for immigration based on her French skills and profession as a French teacher. But when we arrived in Montreal, no one would employ a recent immigrant to teach the French language, and so she had to resort to selling diet plans at a weight-loss centre to makes ends meet.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

That resilience comes in many forms, and we can’t always see the strength we have within us.

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