Prestige issue 287-288, Dec. 2017-Jan. 2018
«The pure delight is the cornerstone of the novel »
Passionate about reading and writing from an early age, lawyer and graduate in Letters, Sandra Mehanna presents her first novel, «Pur Délice». A title that recalls the name of a restaurant, but also the purely delicious atmosphere of the book that addresses the most sensitive topics of contemporary Lebanese society, and carries messages of life. Interview.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a novel? I have always loved reading and writing since I was in school, but the click came when I started my internship as a lawyer, I quickly realized that the job alone will not be enough to flourish, especially its dry and rigid side. So I started studying Letters at the Lebanese University in parallel with my internship. And the idea of writing novels later germinated quite quickly …
Why did you choose the title of «Pur Délice»? I wanted a title that could both be the name of a restaurant and describe the general mood of the novel: purely delicious! In fact, the «Pur Délice» is a little cornerstone of the novel since the story starts with the arrival of Sawsanne to work as a waitress in order to get some pocket money. It is also the place where she meets with most of the characters in the book. Finally, the final note of the novel is also played at «Pur Délice» as it ends with the rather unexpected celebration of a wedding.
What is the main message conveyed in «Pur Délice»? The novel conveys several messages: the first is that in life, the lightness and gravity of the circumstances are often intertwined and the line that separates them is often very fine. But the essential thing is to be able, as much as possible, to treat all the situations which are presented in all human course with this dose of humanism, necessary and vital because the novels are centered on the Man, against all odds! Hence the second main message of the novel which is that of tolerance and acceptance of others. Tolerance focuses primarily on the acceptance of the other in its differences «because it takes everything to make a world». Tolerance is also focused on accepting the difficulties and problems that inevitably loom over all human life because the best way to solve a problem is to start by admitting it!
«Pur Délice» addresses the most sensitive topics of contemporary Lebanese society. What was your main source of inspiration? Was it your professional experience as a lawyer or your life experience? Everything inspired me to write this novel. My personal experience and my professional experience, of course. But also things and situations not lived but only observed. And then there are also these situations not experienced and even less observed and this is where the imagination works!
In the novel, Hanna, one of your characters, won the lottery after many tries. Do you believe in luck? Honestly, not really. Everyday, I believe in work and at the level of life in general, I believe in destiny and then I always forget to play lotto!
In the novel too, you mention three types of girls who are the waitresses of the «Pur Délice»: Sawsanne, needing to work in parallel to her studies to get out of her material embarrassment, Vera, having grown up without her father and alongside a mother physically present but morally absent and Isa, who, after a golden childhood, suffered the full blows of paternal bankruptcy. Who do you think managed to face his problems? I think all three have managed to face their problems, each in their own way, because there is never a miraculous solution applicable to everyone. Rather, there are tailor-made solutions for everyone! The key is to tap into us and around us to be able to find them and have enough courage to apply them!
Now that you have published your first novel, would there be a new manuscript in progress or in the near future? There is half a manuscript in the drawer and my head is full with writing projects! Interview by Mireille Bridi Bouabjian