Shakako Jani was praying Fajr beneath the makeshift shrine she had built for her two martyred brothers, Fahim and Kadeem, when, at approximately 6:45 a.m., Dully Abdul Kareem, her second-born son, crossed the path of her janamaz and promptly transformed into a small monkey. And although, as she would later recall, Shakako did not see the transformation—her eyes fixed upon her janamaz—she did hear the cracking of seven English rifles being fired from somewhere deep within the Black Mountains, and because she knew that the Black Mountains were eight . . .
The balcony doors swing open, tossing sheer curtains. There’s no tingle from the wind chime. The sea remains unruffled. It’s a becalmed day.
“Anyone catching anything?” she asks.
“Looks like only the bleach jugs are fishing,” he says, lowering his binoculars and turning to her.
She’s fresh from a shower, wound in a green bath towel. A white one turbans her hair.
Last night, after an argument that came out of nowhere during dinner, they sat on the balcony passing what was left of a bottle of wine in place . . .
We [Wes Anderson, Juman Malouf, and Hanan Al-Shaykh] thought it might be interesting to discuss the interpretation of a short story for the screen. During his long moviemaking career, John Huston specialized in literary adaptations. One of our favorites is his final film: The Dead.
Wes: We’re sitting at dinner now. Do you know the man who plays Mr. Browne?
Wes: I think his name is Dan O’Herlihy. He was in Luis Buñuel’s movie of Robinson Crusoe. Did you ever see it?
Hanan: No . . .
I raised my head from the book I was reading and saw the seagull looking at me from the sitting-room balcony.
“Have you come back?” I shouted. “Have you come back after being gone for so long?”
Perhaps it was another seagull.
“Is it really you?”
The eye that examined the world was still a yellow sun, the white of the eye the color of brown sugar, the pupil black, and on the tip of the beak an orange stain, as if the seagull had just finished eating an apricot or orange-flavored ice . . .
Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest. It was well for her she had not to attend to the ladies also. But Miss Kate and Miss Julia had thought of that and had converted the bathroom upstairs into a ladies’ dressing-room. Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters and . . .