The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Omar Shahid Hamid

By Aminah Sheikh


Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I find it cathartic.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I don’t usually have a complex motive behind my books, I try and write what I think are interesting stories.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Don’t know what that would be.

Who are your favorite authors?

Robert Harris and John Le Carre.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.

My second book, The Spinner’s Tale, was the most challenging because I tried to put myself in the head of a jihadist, who was a sociopath. It took me to some very dark places.

What’s your idea of bliss?

Sitting on a beach writing my next book

What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?

People who believe they are above the law.

What books would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?

My tastes in books are quite diverse and prone to changing with my mood, so I’d take my entire library.

Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you? 

Probably my laptop with my latest manuscript on it.

Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.  

Seize the moment because you never know if another one will come.



Omar Shahid Hamid has been a police officer in Pakistan for sixteen years and is a senior member of the Karachi Police’s Counter Terrorism Department. In 2011, following an attack on his offices by the Pakistani Taliban, he took a five-year sabbatical to write books and worked as a political risk consultant. He has been widely quoted and regularly featured in major news outlets like The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, Le Monde, DW, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNN, BBC, France24, Radio France and NPR. His first novel, The Prisoner (2013), was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 and is now being adapted for a feature film. His second novel is The Spinner’s Tale (2015). In 2016, Omar returned to active duty as a Counter Terrorism Officer. The Party Worker (2017) published by Pan Macmillan is his latest novel.


Aminah Sheikh is the Online Editor of Kitaab