Deborah Kanafani, Author of Unveiled and mb Instructor, on Writing Controversial Nonfiction vs. Controversial Memoir
Getting your nonfiction book published is hard. Getting it published when it deals with one of the most controversial topics of our time is even harder. Deborah Kanafani never intended to tell her own story. Instead, she set out to tell the story of the wives of Middle Eastern leaders in her upcoming book Unveiled, a first-hand look inside Middle East politics and culture that has already been hailed by critics as a must-read.
As a witness to the peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, Deborah was nervous about writing a book of this magnitude. “[In this book] I am trying to show peace efforts and present the path of peace as opposed to trying to point a finger,” she says.
Deborah also knew that the many years she spent in the Middle East would allow her to present the human — rather than political — side of these often-overlooked women.
“My ex-husband was a high ranking diplomat, and I had spent many years with the wives of leaders, and I thought they had amazing stories to tell. No one knows what the women go through. I decided to tell their stories.”
Like many authors, Deborah struggled with deciding whether to write a nonfiction book or a memoir. “I wanted to write about other people, but the publishers pushed for my own story to be the narrative thread, as an American that the reader could relate to. It was a difficult process — I had to tell many different stories and incorporate various themes.”
Deborah Kanafani will be teaching Nonfiction Book Writing in New York beginning October 25.
– Dorit Feith