Meet Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize nominee Rawi Hage

The author of ’Carnival’ on a writer’s life, plus a book excerpt

Brian Bethune sat down with all five authors shortlisted for the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, which will be announced on Nov. 7. Here’s the third in the series, with author Rawi Hage, where we find out what the effect of literary festivals and literary prizes has on their writing life; what of themselves–beside talent and imagination–went into their nominated books; and what they are reading now, followed by an excerpt from their novel.

**EXCERPT**  There are two kinds of taxi drivers: the Spiders and the Flies. Spiders are those drivers who wait at taxi stands for the dispatcher’s call or for customers to walk off the streets and into their hungry cars. These human insects can be found on city sidewalks rolling newspapers, comparing cars, recalling customers and their own lives. They wait on corners for things to come and ages to pass. Nameless they have become, reduced to machine operators who identify each other and themselves by the number of their car: 101 had a fight, they might say; 56’s wife is pregnant; 97 just passed by . . .

But I call them the Spiders.

Flies are wanderers, operators who drive alone and around to pick up the wavers and the whistlers on edges of sidewalks and streets. They navigate the city, ceaseless and aimless, looking for raising arms to halt their flights, for the rain to make them busy, for the surfing lanterns above their hoods to shine like faraway ships leaving potato famines and bringing newcomers. No wanderer ever rests on the curb to play or feed. No wanderer chooses to travel the same road twice.

I am a wanderer.

Copyright © 2012 by Rawi Hage. Reprinted with permission of House of Anansi Press.