Q&A with Nafisa Haji, author of The Writing on My Forehead discussion

How do you balance "fiction," "reality" and "truth"?

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message 1: by Sally (new)

Sally (Mostly_Literary) | 3 comments Readers always want to know how much of a novel is based on reality, and how much is made up from your imagination. In addition, authors have friends and family members who probably wonder "Is that me?" or "Is that Nafisa?" How do you deal with that? It must be hard to anticipate readers -- especially readers you are friends or family members with -- wondering how much is real or imagined. Related to that, I'm wondering what kind of reactions you have received from your relatives. Was your book controversial in regards to revealing things that might be parallel in your own family?

message 2: by Nafisa (new)

Nafisa Haji | 22 comments Mod
Great question! Without going into grand, spoiler territory, it is interesting to see how many people have assumed the whole story is absolutely true. To get the answer to that question out of the way, none of the contemporary twists and turns in the plot are real. Saira's perspective, and Ameena's for that matter, are both informed by my experiences growing up, but none of what happened to them actually happened to me. The older stories, however, have elements of "truth" in them. Without giving anything away, for example, the "fan incident" actually happened with my mother and her sister, the combatants being their grandmother and aunt. Also, my grandfather made my grandmother wear sleeveless sari blouses, inviting comment from one of her in-laws. Close family members know enough about me to know what is fiction. But distant relatives have come up with some interesting theories. Some, I have heard, refer to the characters in the book by the names of real-life relatives that they assume they're based on. It amuses more than bothers--just to see how inaccurate the guesses tend to be.

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