Book Extras

Posted on October 14, 2008 by Alexandra Avakian

A boy kisses a portrait of the late Ayatollah Khomeini

The photo essay at the front of the book is a way of telling the reader that you are going to visit many places in the pages of my book. I couldn’t resist including Iraq, Egypt, and Morocco, although they would not fit into the book as chapters in and of themselves. In the next few blog entries I'll share some photos that did not make it into the book. Stay tuned! I traveled often with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO. It started when the New York Times Magazine sent me to Tunis in the fall of 1988 to do a cover story on him, back when he was still a pariah. Over the years I flew with him on his little Iraqi-piloted plane lent to him by Saddam Hussein, to Libya to meet with Moammar Qaddafi, to Algeria for his declaration of independence, to Washington when he signed the Oslo Accords at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzakh Rabin and President Clinton, to Oslo when he accepted the Peace Prize, among other places. I got to know the advisors around him and his wife Suha, too.

35mm film image of a boy smoking in a Morocco cafe

There was a lot of waiting involved, and I would often find other things to photograph. Before and after the assignments I would take off on adventures with a couple of Arab friends. I especially enjoyed North Africa. This picture of a boy smoking in a Moroccan café in Ouzane is in the introduction to the book.

Moroccan ice cream stand

These other two pictures from Morocco are not. The first is in Ouzane, where I found a lot of people, including the very old, smoking hashish in the street. I was invited to a wedding in northern Morocco where I danced with the women, and another day to a hamaam (Turkish bath.) On another trip I got caught for three days in a Saharan sandstorm.

A street dentist sells his wares in Marrakesh

The second photo of a street dentist was taken in Djemma Square in Marrakesh. Morocco is beautiful and full of surprises but also very poor. After I finished a piece of chicken at an outdoor café one night in Marrakesh, a pregnant woman and her child came out of the shadows and grabbed my plate and ran off with the bones.

Filed Under: BooksWindows of the SoulPhotography

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