Today's interview is with Sadia Faruqi, the author of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan. Ms Faruqi writes fiction, teaches cultural sensitivity, blogs about religion, and organizes interfaith events. You can learn more about Faruqi on her website: www.saadiafaruqi.com
Can tell us a little bit about yourself and your book Brick Walls?
I am a Pakistani American writer, speaker and interfaith activist residing in Houston, TX with my husband and two young children by the grace of God. Professionally I am a grant writer, and by vocation I am an interfaith organizer, speaking about interfaith and Islamic issues at a variety of venues in the Greater Houston area. In 2009 I published a research-based book on grant seeking, and for the last decade or so I’ve been writing non-fiction about cultural and religious issues. Only recently did I somehow get the urge to write fiction, hence my debut fiction title “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan.”
Brick Walls is a collection of short stories based in my birth country of Pakistan. It is a fictional account of characters living in Pakistan, but the situations they find themselves in are very real. Each story in the collection focuses on a specific obstacle the characters find in front of them – be it poverty, terrorism, gender discrimination, police harassment, political turmoil, ageism, and so on. These are the brick walls the characters face, and the stories are about how they deal with these walls. It is a unique look into the everyday lives of Pakistanis, and how they deal with the problems they face.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
During my training, when I would speak about Islam or interfaith topics, I would often be asked about my life in Pakistan. Americans know a lot about Pakistan thanks to the news, but most of that information is very biased. They read about bombs and terrorists and violence, but they never see the beauty and charm of Pakistani culture. All these questions made me realized that a depiction of Pakistani life was much-needed here, and that readers would be very interested in learning more about the daily accomplishments and struggles of the Pakistani people. So I decided to write a fictional account based on the reality of that country.
Highlight some of your achievements and challenges while working on Brick Walls.
My biggest challenge was to decide which topics or themes to write about. I wanted to show a wide variety of situations that Pakistanis undergo, but I didn’t want to go overboard. So I had to choose very carefully which issues I would write about, and which to leave out. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of characters, male, female, young, old, rich, poor. My biggest achievement I think was being able to find the correct mix of characters and story lines that really make the book all-rounded without being overwhelming or preachy. I have received wonderful feedback about this aspect of the book and how it appeals to so many different readers.
Describe your writing style in ten words.
Writing stories of cultural importance in a conversational literary style.
Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Engaging, dedicated, passionate, informal, and thoughtful.
Thank you so much, Ms Faruqi, for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your writing journey with us.