Zaina Arafat on How Sliding Doors Has Influenced Her Entire Way of Thinking
In Conversation with Mychal Denzel Smith on the Open Form Podcast
Welcome to Open Form, a new weekly film podcast hosted by award-winning writer Mychal Denzel Smith. Each week, a different author chooses a movie: a movie they love, a movie they hate, a movie they hate to love. Something nostalgic from their childhood. A brand-new obsession. Something they’ve been dying to talk about for ages and their friends are constantly annoyed by them bringing it up.
In this episode, Mychal talks to Zaina Arafat about the 1998 film Sliding Doors, directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
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From the episode:
Zaina Arafat: I recently watched this film in early June, and I found myself really reflecting on how much of the film perhaps has influenced my way of thinking since the time that I first saw it. I’m someone who really interested in/completely obsessed with counterfactuals and possibility. Just like the way that things could have been is constantly on my mind, and I’m just always sort of thinking about that, which is both a sort of fun thought experiment for a fiction writer, because you can kind of take characters and put them in those counterfactual situations and see what happens, and also somewhat torturous as a human being, because you just want to be present in this narrative that you’re living.
Zaina Arafat is a LGBTQ Palestinian-American writer based in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, You Exist Too Much, was selected as an Indie Next Pick for June, and has been praised by O Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, NPR, LitHub and Good Morning America. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including Granta, The New York Times, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, VICE, BuzzFeed, Guernica, and The Atlantic. She holds an MFA from Iowa and an MA from Columbia, and was awarded the 2018 Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship from Jack Jones Literary Arts. She teaches writing at Long Island University and the School of the New York Times, and is currently working on an essay collection.