Dizzy in Karachi

I first learned of Maliha Masood’s work while editing Best Women’s Travel Writing back in 2010. Tim Leffel of Perceptive Travel nominated her return-to-motherland essay “Breaking Frontiers” for the anthology, and it deeply resonated within me. Having left her native Pakistan for the United States as a teenager, she too understands the complexities of identity. So I am happy to announce the publication of her new book, Dizzy in Karachi: A Journey to Pakistan, just out with the Seattle house Booktrope. It recounts her return to Pakistan after landing a summer internship in Islamabad.

Tell us the story behind the title of your book.

The title is a play on words. Dizzy has a dual meaning. It refers to Dizzy Gillespie, who performed in Karachi back in 1956. The concert was a huge success and nurtured an entire generation of Pakistanis who were influenced by American pop culture, my father among them. He was a major jazz buff while growing up in Pakistan. Then one day, out of the blue, my …

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Interview with Carolyn Nash

One of the sweetest joys of teaching is reveling in your students’ successes. So I was thrilled when I arrived home yesterday to find RAISING ABEL in my mailbox. I worked with its deeply talented author (who is publishing under the name Carolyn Nash for this project) last summer at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. She astounded us all with the power of her story about raising two adopted sons, one of whom had suffered extreme abuse in his previous family. Here is an interview she recently conducted about adoption, writing, and life. 

Tell us about yourself.

I am the very lucky mother of two sons, 21 and 6. I say lucky because they are adopted and I swear I got the two best in the world. What are the chances? I mean one, sure, but two? Unfortunately, my older son didn’t come to me until he was almost 4, and much happened in his early years. My younger son came to me at 3 weeks and is deliciously obnoxious as …

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Interview with Wendy Call

The loveliest aspect of living in Iowa City is that practically every writer waltzes through at some point. This Tuesday (10/18) at 7 p.m., Prairie Lights will be hosting Wendy Call, author of myriad stories and essays as well as the just-released No Word For Welcome, a book of narrative nonfiction exploring how economic globalization intersects with village life in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. We shared an epic meal a few nights ago, trading anecdotes about the writing biz:

Tell us about your journey toward becoming a writer.

I grew up wanting to be both a scientist and a writer. When I was seventeen, the latter seemed like a pipe dream, and the former, a rational career choice. I wrote “biology” on the “intended major” line of my college application and never reconsidered that choice. I probably should have. At the end of every semester of my college career, I received a strong urging to reconsider – in the form of a grade report that highlighted my facility in the humanities and …

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Interview with Mary Jo McConahay

Exciting news for all you Latinistas out there: journalist and documentary filmmaker Mary Jo McConahay has just released a new book about 30 years of travels across southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. Along the way, she witnessed the transformation of the Lacandon people, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, and the onslaught of the drug war. Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest was recently named “Book of the Month” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.

Maya Roads documents your thirty-year experience — I was going to say love affair — with the Central American rainforest.  We’re talking jungle here, right? As in, eight-foot snakes?

We are talking jungle, its beauty, magic, and violence, too, but also unforgettable people, archaeological digs, ancient towns and the crown jewel of the region’s colonial cities, San Cristobal de las Casas. Classic Maya rainforest cities such as Palenque, Tikal in Guatemala and the city of paintings, Bonampak, are reached fairly easily these days by travelers, even though they are …

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Interview with Michael David Lukas

Exciting news on the book front: Michael David Lukas has just released his much-anticipated novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, about an eight year-old orphan girl who becomes an advisor to the Ottoman sultan and, in the process, changes the course of history. A former Fulbright Scholar in Turkey and Rotary Scholar in Tunisia, Lukas has also written for the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, and National Geographic Traveler. This summer, we’ll both be teaching at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Here’s the scoop on his new book:

Tell us about the origins of The Oracle of Stamboul.

I started writing The Oracle of Stamboul in early 2004. At the time I was living in Tunisia, studying Arabic, applying to MFA programs, and generally trying to figure out what to do with my life. The seed of the book came to me on a run through the undeveloped outskirts of Tunis. Eleonora, the protagonist of the book, was hazy in that first glimpse, a slight, precocious child playing backgammon with two older …

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Interview with Jessie Sholl

Have you, like me, been obsessively watching all those TV shows that have come out about hoarding lately? My good friend Jessie Sholl has just published a memoir on the subject, Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books). I read the galley several months ago and found it totally gripping. Here is what Jessie has to say on the subject:

Dirty Secret is the first memoir to be written by the child of a compulsive hoarder. How do you feel about breaking into uncharted territory?

I’m proud to be the first person to write a memoir about it, but I don’t feel particularly groundbreaking—I’m sure that if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have sooner rather than later. I’m just happy to get people talking about how hoarding affects families, and I’ll be thrilled if my book allows others to feel freer about exposing their secrets.

Were you concerned about how your mom would react to the book?

I asked her permission before …

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