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New Writer 2022: Firas Ibrahim

Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction

Firas was born in Syria and moved to Scotland in 2001. It was love at first sight, with the people, place, and culture. He always had a passion for writing but didn't know where to start and he had a lot to learn about his new home. His bachelor's in English put him on the right track, but he needed his writing 'grey' cells to mature before he could venture into fiction. Then Covid happened and the world ceased to exist.

So, he decided to create his own world where there was no Covid and where people still hugged and had coffee together. In addition to working on the draft of his first book, he started writing short stories. With each one, he went on a journey with people he met or came across in the past. His first short story, 'Syrian Morning Coffee', was born in September 2020. The positive feedback from friends and readers on his blog was the push he desperately needed; writing became a daily ritual. All his journeys shared one starting point, his kitchen table and a pot of Syrian coffee, but the beauty of it was not knowing where each journey would take him.

Writing sample

Syrian Morning Coffee

It was 5.50 am, the usual time for getting up and making the coffee for her husband and herself. By the time she had made the coffee the aroma of the cardamom would fill their small flat. He would turn in his sleep catching the delicious aroma. That was his cue to get up. Depending on the season they would sit either at the kitchen table or on the balcony. For thirty two years she never once needed to call out to him, as soon as she poured the coffee he would pop his head round the kitchen door, pretending to close his eyes and follow the aroma to her. He would pretend that he mistook her hand for the coffee cup and take it in his hands, inhale the coffee scent and place a grateful kiss on it and let it go.

Today she made the coffee and sat at the table. she did something unusual this time. She had arranged his ashtray, cigarette pack and lighter as usual. Slowly her hand stretched to the pack, she opened it and took out a cigarette. She had never touched cigarettes before and never liked the smell but tolerated it because of him. She didn't know how to light one but that didn't seem to stop her. She lit the cigarette and took a puff. It felt like knives went down her throat and she had a fit of coughing. When she stopped coughing she put the lit cigarette on the ashtray exactly how he would put it. Everything was ready, the coffee, the cigarette with its column of white smoke rising in the air. All she wanted now was for him to appear around the corner of the door but he didn't and she knew he wouldn't.

Firas says:

'It has been a week and the news hasn't sunk in yet! I am truly humbled to be chosen for this award and still can't believe it. It has brought so much joy to me and my lovely supportive family. I can't wait to meet my fellow awardees and start the most exciting journey in my writing life.'