Farah Ghuznavi

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

I write in order to save my (admittedly fragile) sanity! Otherwise the voices in my head would drive me crazy…

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

My most recent project was a short story written from two points of view — that of a Filipino man and a Sri Lankan woman. I was interested in finding out what it would be like to write a story with characters that I didn’t particularly like, and to use contrasting perspectives on the same set of events to tell a third story — one that was different from both versions offered by the protagonists.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I’m not sure I have a writing aesthetic as such, because I enjoy good writing in many forms. But I do have a soft spot for humour and wordplay, a clever turn of phrase.

Who are your favourite authors?

I have so many! But my favourites include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alan Paton, Elif Shafak and J. K. Rowling.

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

The most challenging piece for me so far has been my short story Judgment Day, which was awarded in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2010, because it was my first — and so far, only — attempt to write science fiction. The story is told in the voice of a female robotics scientist living in 2250, and examines how human relationships change as a result of technology, and what remains familiar to those of us living in the 21st century. To make matters worse, the story originally had to be written within a word limit of 500 words, and it was one of my earliest experiences with flash fiction!

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Fragments of RiversongWhen I read the stories in Fragments of Riversong, a collection of 12 short stories by Bangladeshi author Farah Ghuznavi, I was very happy to see lively descriptions of old properties and sprawling houses. Having grown up in two sprawling bungalows in my hometown, Ghatsila, in the state of Jharkhand in India, a description—or even a mere mention—of old bungalows fills me with a certain thrill. I begin to connect with the setting and I have this feeling that the author is speaking/writing of something that I have known and experienced. Reading Fragments of Riversong was a bonus, for there were not only old properties and sprawling bungalows, but also a lot of village life in its stories. A part of my family still lives in our ancestral village that I visit regularly, and, at present, I am working in a rural setting. The stories in Fragments of Riversong were more familiar than I had expected them to be. Also, another remarkable thing I noticed in these stories were children. There are children—young girls, young boys—in nearly all the stories. Most stories are either about children or have—despite the third person narrative—a child guiding the reader through the narrative.

In “Escaping the Mirror”, her parents’ big house becomes a sort of a jail for seven-year-old Dia as she tries to escape the advances made by their driver, Minhas. The feeling of frustration of the little child upon realising that her parents trust that abusive man more than they trust their own daughter has been brought out in harrowing detail.