Authors have for a long time used literary expressions of anguish as a powerful tool to connect with readers. They may use language and symbolic references to nuance the emotions associated with it, but whatever their approach, they look to inspire emotions that deliver that gut punch.
My guest today, Aamina Ahmad clearly knows how to handle the literature of conflicted emotions. Her debut novel, The Return Of Faraz Ali—set in the walled city of Lahore, Pakistan—is the story of a cop who is asked to hush up the murder of a prostitute by some powerful figures. But his deep connection to the Mohullah from his past takes the story in a direction that is both unexpected and compelling.
While “The Return Of Faraz Ali” might be Aamina’s debut novel, she is an experienced writer. Her background and career speak to this experience.
Aamina was born and raised in London and studied English in college. She worked for the BBC as a script editor, including on epic stories like The East Enders. And since then she has, of note, published a full length play, a short story and a novel. Here’s how she did:
Her play, titled The Dishonoured, won a Screencraft Stage Play Award and was nominated for an Off-West End Award. Her short story "The Red One Who Rocks," published in 2019, won the Pushcart Prize. And “The Return Of Faraz Ali” won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award. And then they decided to give her the 2017 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award for… well, simply for being a good and promising writer.
One of the many things I like about doing this show is discovering new authors—even if the rest of the world discovered them before I did.
And ever so often, a particularly delightful piece of writing presents itself and I spend several happy days disappearing into the worlds that they have crafted. The last few days were spent in the literature of Aamina.
And now, she joins me from her home in Minneapolis. Aamina Ahmad, welcome to The Literary City.
ABOUT AAMINA AHMAD
Aamina Ahmad was born and raised in London, where she worked for BBC Drama and other independent television companies as a script editor. Her play The Dishonoured was produced by Kali Theatre Company, in 2016. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including One Story, The Southern Review and Ecotone. She won the Writers’ Guild Award 2022 for Best First Novel and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction at the L.A Book Prize for The Return of Faraz Ali. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Buy The Return Of Faraz Ali: https://amzn.to/3nBWrVH
WHAT'S THAT WORD?!
Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "What's That Word?!", where they discuss the origin of the phrase, "IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME!".
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