“You can print today’s Hemingway,” said junior Tarek Al-Hariri. “That’s not an accomplishment. We want to print tomorrow’s Hemingway.”
Al-Hariri will release The Rome Review, a biannual literary magazine, this December. Although the publication is based out of the University – with students and English department faculty collecting and editing the pieces – the focus is not on student writers. One student writer will be featured each month, alongside works from accomplished authors and essayists.
Al-Hariri shares editorship with Gregory Nanni, a sophomore.
The publication boasts big names in literature, including work from Pulitzer Prize-winning, Dominican-American author Junot Diaz and a pending interview with New Yorker essayist Seymour Hersh. Though Al-Hariri admitted he knew Hersh through family friends, other major contributors like Diaz were secured by e-mail contact.
Al-Hariri drew a distinction between his project and other GW-based literary publications like Wooden Teeth, Le Culte Du Moi and GW Review.
“Wooden Teeth published my first poems and in retrospect they were very generous,” Al-Hariri said, laughing. While he lauds these other publications, he says The Rome Review will not necessarily present GW-based content.
“It’s like the New Yorker with 1/100th the circulation,” he said.
Al-Hariri, who is known on campus for his run for Student Association president last spring, said his transition to an English major was influential in deciding to start the publication.
“One of my goals has always been doing a literary magazine,” he said. “The only thing I did was write.”
Entering the University as a business major, he switched his major to philosophy, then religion, before finally settling on English. H.G. Carrillo, a novelist and professor at the University, prompted the change.
“He sort of pulled me aside and said, “What the hell are you doing with your life?”
The first issue, which Al-Hariri said he hopes to make available at major book retailers like Barnes & Noble, spans 128 color pages.
“That’s where all the money goes,” he said of the project, which costs an estimated $10,000. Copies will sell for $14.95.
“Ideally, that is money to give back to the University,” he said.
Al-Hariri started the project with the help of other literary publications, like the Kenyon Review and Ninth Letter Arts & Literary Journal.
He identified the publication as avant-garde, highlighting writers who use language in innovative ways.
“We tend to not stick with a formalist writing style,” he said. “Good writing. It captures part of the human experience. That’s our only theme.”