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Friday, October 26, 2012

"Listen to silence, not to others."

The always compelling Uzma Aslam Khan has a lively and engaging interview posted here in Pakistan's news weekly The Friday Times, in which she talks about writing, her new novel Thinner Than Skin, the state of Pakistan (as well as the State of Pakistan), husbands (ahem) and life in general. It's a terrific interview and well worth a look, so please, go take a look!

Thinner Than Skin is, as mentioned elsewhere on this blog, a terrific book, so if you or your book club are looking for something to read, well...

Here's an extract from the interview:  

"AA: Being an English novelist of Pakistani origin writing for an international audience, do you feel pressurized into conforming your writings to the themes of so-called 'South Asian fiction'?

UAK:You can't think about this while writing. Not only does it have nothing to do with story-telling, but I doubt many people can know what the market wants, even if they wanted to know, which I don't. That said, though we can't guess the demand, we can examine certain patterns. Some years ago, I wrote an essay titled "Brown Man's Burden". In it, I say that today's 'Asian' novelists face an unspoken list of dos and don'ts. The most insidious rule on the list is the "freeing" of Muslim women by the West, an obvious draw in the current political climate, in which the West seeks to justify its wars through feeding the public the same hackneyed image of "oppressed" women-in-veils.
          Some years ago, a publisher tried to put a cover of a veiled woman on my novel, Trespassing. I fought that cover and finally had it changed. But at some cost to myself. So, to answer your question, do I feel pressured to conform? No. Does the pressure exist? Yes. And the particular type of pressure outlined here is put on writers who happen to be women. Slurpy tales with sensational titles like "Married by Force" still adorn the front displays of major bookstores, and covers with eyes behind a veil continue to multiply like bunnies. It makes it harder for those trying to fight these trends to be heard."

The entire interview bounces around numerous topics, all of which manage to be fascinating. You don't need to have read Uzma's books to be interested, although by the time you're done, you might want to!

For the book's Amazon page, click here.

For the entire interview, click here.

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