An open letter to Mehreen Ahmed from Joan Eyles Johnson, the winner of the Earnest Hemingway Prize for short fiction, 2016: Moirae by Mehreen Ahmed.

11 Feb

Dear Mehreen,

As an English teacher, I found some of it disturbing with spelling errors and switching back and forth with punctuation and long passages that seem unconnected, or maybe a short story in a longer story and the inconsistency of the narrator who seems to know some grand literature and makes me wonder how it was learned in a poor country. In other words, it confusing and difficult as an English teacher to read.

Now as a writer, I am impressed by the literary references, the beautiful and often lush descriptive metaphors and strong storytelling talent that continues throughout the book. I see the stream-of-consciousness and juxtaposition of styles as following Ezra Pound’s “Make it new.”

As a teacher of creative writing, I would tighten up many spots that I see to jar the reader or even yank the reader violently from one narrative to another.

Over all, Moirae is a beautiful example of an earnest attempt at a new kind of writing, and that is commendable, however, I wish I could talk with you as you completed each chapter, which by the way is beautifully divided and managed. I like the Faulknerian switch in point of view from first chapter to the second. I would have asked you delineate the characters in such a way that their family relationships were made even more clear. The thing I most liked was the strangeness of the setting, the fact that I was never sure of what and where and if in your novel. I like that very much. I like your voice, Mehreen.

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Character Interview Number 40 – Nalia

16 Jan

Library of Erana

Tell Us About Yourself

Name: Nalia

Age: 16

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born on a planet much like earth, but with two moons, I live in a village called the Lost Winds. This planet is situated in another galaxy far away from the galaxy where the blue planet Earth is. However, this planet is also blue and life has existed here for billions of years. The essential celestial gasses such oxygen, hydrogen, carbon- dioxide and nitrogen have also made us much like the people of the planet earth.
Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. I look like a human, but taller and thinner than an average human girl of my age. I have curly blue long hair all the way to the waist and a leopard skin. I have three fingers on two hands and three toes on two large feet. My eyes…

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Authority and Ambition: A Publication Day Guest Post by Mehreen Ahmed, Author of The Pacifist

9 Aug

Authority and Ambition in “The Pacifist”: A Guest Post by Mehreen Ahmed
The Pacifist

The Pacifist is not just an historical fiction that romanticises the adventurous spirit of the gold rush period in Australia. Largely, the novel documents the dark sides of institutional power and effects of blind ambition. From the outset, The Pacifist illustrates such themes through troubled characters. Malcolm’s strange upbringing, Rose’s mental illness and supernatural encounters, Peter’s idealised vision of a good life. Consequences, hinging on the existence of an orphanage, at the heart of it.

In The Pacifist, the orphanage is not portrayed as the safe haven, it should be. In fact, children are seen suffering in the hands of a deplorable pedophile. The most vulnerable in our society in the grips of the most despicable, inexcusable. This warrants an investigation into the facilities that society comes to put their trust in. While the story focuses on this one example of an institution taking advantage of the unfortunate, the orphanage renders itself as a symbol for the greater injustices that happen. A system of authority imposing its will on the less fortunate; this is not a new idea; still, one that needs rigorous reinvestigation. Through fiction, we can find newer ways to reopen a thesis, identify antithesis through to possible synthesis.

This institution designates Brown as farmer to a property, owned by Badgerys Creek Orphanage. Its strict caveat precludes him from making any serious money; overtime, he falls into a trap of extreme poverty and desperation. Metaphorically, this caveat is that destructive force of institutional power, a gate-less keeper, no less, which keeps the farmer perpetually broke and under constant subservience. However, this state of overwhelming poverty somewhat has a deluding effect on him. Deluded in his mind, he thinks that he can break through, gain freedom by leaving the farm, when he can’t. The orphanage anchors down not just him to the farm, but the caveat stipulates that the farm be noosed around his successors too; his future generation of offsprings, thus perpetuating a system. A system to keep the poor, poor forever – a recurrent theme, like light and dark, night and day, poverty and wealth, one justifying the other.

Ambition is a good thing, but where does one draw a line between ambition and greed? Peter seeks to climb up the social strata by working hard. His role in the novel is to show that there is a fine line separating success and greed. Understanding this is important if one were to avoid serious repercussion. His family is thrown into turmoil as a result of his unwillingness to find a balance between living a life and seeking wealth. A situation which eventually bankrupts him morally. A wasteland of nihilism follows, betraying happiness and love; no amount of wealth can absolve this sin.

While set in the nineteenth century, The Pacifist contains themes that are relevant today. It is an attempt to point out how institutional power can often act as impediment in our struggle to grow and win.

Linda's Book Bag

pacifist

I receive literally dozens of review and guest blog requests every day, and sadly I simply can’t accommodate them all. However, when Cosmic Teapot (how’s that for a name?) asked if I’d feature The Pacifist by Mehreen Ahmed which is set in Australia, a country I loved visiting, I had to grab the opportunity.

The Pacifist is published by Cosmic Teapot today, 11th May 2017, and is available for purchase from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes and B&N.

The Pacifist

pacifist

In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An ageing man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labour. Unbeknown to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has…

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Spotlight Interview with author Mehreen Ahmed

30 May

Source: Spotlight Interview with author Mehreen Ahmed

The Pacifist

10 May

Just Reviews

Title:  The Pacifist

Author:  Mehreen Ahmed

Malcolm Baxter is what some claim to be a benefactor who draws people into giving charity to support the Badgerys Creek Orphanage. But, if these walls could speak and the victims that have been placed there could explain the screams, wails and fear that was instilled in them and if the authorities did not look the other way things might have been better for the poor children placed in this abusive setting. Money was at the root of those running the orphanage and no one bothered to look into the care of the innocent children or where the money was going. Malcolm Baxter was hosting a fundraiser for the orphanage but in the back of his mind he was remembering his own past, jealousies and fears. Malcolm is self-absorbed, lacks self-esteem and needs to be revered and honored. Malcolm with the help of Henna…

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A review from The Midwest Book Review

8 May

Source: A review from The Midwest Book Review

A review from The Midwest Book Review

8 May

Mehreen Ahmed

The Midwest Book Review

The Pacifist
Mehreen Ahmed
Cosmic Teapot Publishing
http://www.cosmicteapot.net
9781988762036, $26.99, HC, http://www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit but fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy…

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