Interview with Saadia Faruqi, author of ‘Brick Walls: Tales of hope & courage from Pakistan’

In the world today there is so much fighting. Nations rage against nations, peoples against peoples. There are so many cultures in the world. People of differing cultures, religions, and familial backgrounds are crowded so close together that it is not surprising that one culture wishes to dominate over another. What if there were ways to bridge culture gaps? If individuals could look at other groups as individuals and learn to understand; if not accept cultural diversity. How much better would this world be? How many wars, battles, and conflicts could be avoided just by grasping the human similarities in different cultures? Saadia Faruqi is one woman who’s writing makes the effort to bridge those gaps.

saadia farukiQ. Asalamu alaikum sister. I have heard wonderful things about your writing and I wondered if we could chat for a bit?

A. Wa alaikum Assalam Catherine! So nice to hear from you. Yes I’d love to chat!

Q. Could you please introduce yourself and give me a brief description of yourself and your background?

A. I’m originally from Pakistan. I came to the U.S. in 1998, at the age of 22, when I got married. My husband was working here so I moved here as well. We’ve moved around quite a lot, first Ohio, then Florida where I did my bachelors, then Texas. I now live in Houston.

Q. I understand you’re an author?

A. Well, professionally I am a grant writer. I work with various nonprofits who are my clients. But I also write nonfiction and fiction on the side, more like a hobby or a passion. I’ve been writing non-fiction for more than a decade. I have written a book on grant writing that’s being used as a textbook in some colleges. I also write articles about Islam and Muslims in various online publications and blogs. Brick Walls, is my first attempt at fiction.

Q. Oh, that’s very exciting! Mashallah! Can you tell me, what is Brick Walls about?

A. Brick Walls is a collection of short stories that came into publication in June of this year. It is based in Pakistan and the book contains seven stories about different characters, rich and poor, young and old, men and women. The characters are fictional but the stories and plots are based on things that happen all the time in Pakistan. I’ve tried to focus on socio-economic issues prevalent there, and give them a positive spin; poverty, corruption, discrimination, etc. I try to give the characters hope, courage, and determination, and that’s what the stories are about; facing obstacles and overcoming them.

Q. The book sounds amazing sister! Do you have any new, upcoming projects?

A. It’s funny how everyone asks me if I’m writing another book. I actually didn’t even think about it until everyone started asking! Recently, I have started a new novel which will also be based in Pakistan, inshallah, but a full-length novel, rather than a short story collection. It’s based on the lives of two women; one in Pakistan and the other in America. It showcases how intertwined our lives are, even if we live thousands of miles apart. I just started writing it so I’m sure there will be lots of changes along the way but that is the basic premise. There are lots of stories in my head; lots of things I want to share about Pakistan but it takes patience to put ideas and words on paper. Writing can be a tedious process and you have to wait for inspiration, and when it fully strikes, you don’t have the time or luxury to sit down without distractions and put thoughts to paper.

Q. And are there any other projects that you would like to discuss, outside of the books you’ve written?

A. Another project that I have is the Blue Minaret Literary Journal, which publishes poetry, art, and fiction by Muslims. I am the editor in chief there. Also, I will be holding a book signing tour in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, inshallah. My website will have dates of the events as soon as they become available. www.saadiafaruqi.com

Q. It all sounds so exciting sister. I can’t wait to read Brick Walls for myself, and also waiting expectantly for the new book. I am interested to see how you work it all out. May Allah bless your efforts sister. It seems as though He has given you the talent to bridge cultural and generational gaps with your ability.

A. Jazakallah! Yes I thank Him daily for the only talent I have…writing. I try to use it for good purposes. The media only shows the negative aspects of a culture but through fiction we can often show the other side of the picture. The whole reason I wrote Brick Walls was to showcase the true culture and beauty of Pakistan that you don’t normally get to see.

by Catherine Wear

If you would like to know more about Saadia Faruqi, Brick Walls, or The Blue Minaret project, check out the links below: 

and the link to buy the book is http://www.amazon.com/Brick-Walls-Saadia-Faruqi/dp/0990387666