Drunk on Ink Q & A with Tanaz Bathena’s YA novel ‘A Girl Like That’
Tanaz Bhathena was born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada. She is the author of A Girl Like That and The Beauty of the Moment (forthcoming in 2019). Her short stories have appeared in various journals including Blackbird, Witness and Room. A wanderer at heart, Tanaz can often be found travelling to different countries, learning bits and pieces of a foreign language, and taking way too many photographs. She loves slapstick comedies and any kind of music that makes her dance. She lives in the Toronto area with her family.
A GIRL LIKE THAT
Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.
This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.
Soniah Kamal: First author/book you read/fell in love with?
Tanaz Bathena: It was about talking squirrels. I don’t remember the author unfortunately.
To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?
Ek garam chai ki pyali please
A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?
Anything Roxane Gay writes.
Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
A favorite quote from your book.
“Love is more important than anything else in this world. And you deserve love as much as anyone else.”
Your favorite book to film?
The Namesake and Gone Girl
Favorite Indie Book Stores?
The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?
How much garam chai goes into producing a single book.
Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?
Last impulse book buy and why?
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma. The girl on the cover makes me happy.
Soniah Kamal is an award winning essayist and fiction writer. Her novel Unmarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan, a parallel retelling of Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan, has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. NPR calls it ‘thought provoking and deliciously readable’ and People Magazine says “This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms.” Unmarriageable is an Amazon Best Books pick, a People Magazine’s Pick, a New York Post Best Book pick, a Library Reads pick and more. Soniah’s debut novel An Isolated Incident was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction, the KLF French Fiction Prize, and is an Amazon Rising Star pick. Soniah’s short story ‘Jelly Beans’ was selected for the Best South Asian Short Stories Anthology 2017. Her TEDx talk is about regrets and redemption. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Catapult, The Normal School, Literary Hub, and has been widely anthologized. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia State University where she was a Paul Bowles Fellow in Fiction. She currently teaches creative writing at Rhineheart University and reviews books for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Soniah will be giving a keynote address at the Jane Austen Summer Program Conference (2019) and she is a Jane Austen Literacy Ambassador. She was born in Pakistan, grew up in England and Saudi Arabia, and currently resides in Georgia.
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