The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Windows on the World’

Andrea Hirata, Jakarta, Indonesia

May 3, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.


Since my childhood, I have rarely had the power to control where I can be. Life has not given me many choices. But after writing my first novel, I started thinking of leaving my place of employment, where I worked for almost twelve years. Though writing is a very risky way of making a living in Indonesia, I finally resigned from my job, and now I’ve got this strange feeling of relief.

The decision to write full-time meant I couldn’t afford to buy a house. A friend kindly offered me the use of his apartment in a thirty-six–story building full of newlywed couples in the southern area of Jakarta. I didn’t like my working space at first, but the scenery and everything going on outside have worked their magic on me. From a building right in front of my windows, I can observe the speed of the sunrises and sunsets. The voices of children playing, laughing, yelling, and crying on the playground crawl up to the eighth floor, where I write. Their voices sound so innocent from a distance. —Andrea Hirata



Alejandro Zambra, Santiago, Chile

April 5, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.


I’m not sure that my little studio is the best place in the house to write. It’s too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But I like this window. I like those trees crossed by power lines and that slice of available sky. The silence is never absolute, or maybe it is—maybe my idea of silence now includes the constant barking of dogs and the uneven roar of motors. I take enormous pleasure in watching passersby, the odd cyclist, the cars.

When the writing isn’t happening I just sit there, absorbing the scenery, adoring it. I’m sure those minutes, those apparently lost hours, are useful in some way, that they’re essential for writing: that my books would be very different if I had written them in another room, looking out another window. —Alejandro Zambra

Translated from the Spanish by Harry Backlund.



G. Mend-Ooyo, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

March 1, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

When I was young, every morning I would take our hobbled horse and walk it in the dawn light. My father would say, “Sleep late like a horse. Rise early like a bird.” As I walked with the horse, I was very happy to have the little birds fly just above the light of dawn as they sang.

The rhythm of each morning of my life still moves to the beat of my lovely childhood. From the window of my home in the center of Ulaanbaatar, I grasp the pale light in the east. Just as I used to bring in the horses pastured on the wild steppe, I spend time recollecting in my mind many thoughts that have taken flight. The images of life, transected by the window, are a chiaroscuro.

I can clearly see the great seat of learning that is the National University of Mongolia. Sometimes it seems to be an image hanging on walls. A few steps from the window is my writing desk, made from Mongolian pine wood. When I sit at the desk, the world shifts into a different space. The history books grow thicker. There is no time to watch what goes on beyond my window. —G. Mend-Ooyo



Luljeta Lleshanaku, Kruja, Albania

February 1, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

Luljeta Lleshanaku

I usually prefer to write in my bedroom at my childhood home in Kruja. Traces of the old living style are in the yard in the front of window: the sheets hung for drying; the terracotta jars, or magrips, sixty-year-old objects once used by my grandfather as olive oil containers and now cut at the throat, transformed as flower vases; the ruined walls which once fenced in the tomato garden; the alembic, or lambik, which served, in the absence of running water, for washing hands after work. But also present is the invisible, the unseen: the erased objects and the missing human beings; the cut plum tree where my sister and I used to climb up during those beautiful summer mornings; the loud voice of my mother when coming back exhausted from her work; the mulberry tree which brought the insects and the good odor of pegmez, the syrup of condensed fruit; the liming thresholds before holidays; my uncles, my cousins, all those portraits and gestures which once populated this yard.

On this inescapable, familiar stage, I can focus on the pelagic depth of a single and bounded situation. In my case creative freedom doesn’t necessarily mean hunting for a new landscape. This environment leads me toward something unmistakable, which is a kind of freedom, too. —Luljeta Lleshanaku


Harris Khalique, Islamabad, Pakistan

January 4, 2013 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

In the afternoon when the sun is blazing and in early evening when its orange hue allows me to stare into the horizon, I look out of this window in my office that opens into a terrace but offers a wider view. I see the palatial houses and imagine the few who live there in luxury. Then I think of the many who serve them—who hurl rolls of newspapers onto their porches, bring groceries, drive cars, sweep floors, toil in the sizzling kitchens. They dwell in shanty settlements ensconced within the affluent neighborhoods or live in crammed quarters in the backyards of these houses.

Before dusk I can look beyond the trees and catch a clear glimpse of the thin-looking white minarets of the Faisal Mosque, one elegant and expansive structure on the slopes of the Margalla Hills. These minarets remind me of the worst dictator we have had. He lies buried in the gardens of this mosque while we still struggle to rein in the beasts of ignorance and bigotry he unleashed.

Last week when it stopped raining after several hours, I decided to go beyond the window and walk across the terrace to look over the street from above. I saw a young girl squatting by a small puddle and folding paper into boats. An odd mix of intense sorrow and great hope enveloped my heart. —Harris Khalique


Etgar Keret, Tel Aviv, Israel

October 5, 2012 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

The nicest place I ever got to write in was in MacDowell. My studio there was surrounded by a beautiful snowy forest, and looking out of the windows I could often see deer. During my residency there a friend came to visit. After having a beer together he said, “There is so much beauty around you, yet I can see from the angle at which your computer is placed that when you write all you can see is the toilet. Why is that?”

The answer was simple. When I write, what I see around me is the landscape of my story. I only get to enjoy the real one when I'm done. In the Keret family tradition my writing space is always one of the least desirable spots in our apartment, a place which only a person who is busy writing can bear. Currently it is a small metal table placed between the living room and the kitchen. The moment I stop writing I can notice on the other side of the road a beautiful grand tree allegedly planted sixty years ago by one of Israel’s finest children poets as well as the happy mess my son and I left on the balcony the day before, but this is just for a moment, most of the time I just see my stories which are usually much messier than the balcony floor. —Etgar Keret