With the publication of his hotly anticipated fourth novel, Exit West, Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid continues to push the boundaries of form whilst tackling some of the most pressing issues of the age, including migration, globalisation and digitisation. Having previously written books in the form of a book length dramatic monologue and a self-help satire dealing with contemporary Pakistan and beyond, his latest offering, Exit West, a novel about migration with a sci-fi twist is not to be missed – catch the launch on September 9, 9pm at Berliner Festspiele.
Describe your first memory of writing…
I remember writing a mini-novel inspired by Star Wars and Star Trek when I was about six or seven years old. It had stick figure illustrations and was a galactic space odyssey.
The three Ws: Where, When, Why do you write?
Where: at my desk in my study. When: in the morning, when my children are at school. Why: because I have never been entirely comfortable with what others call “reality”.
Describe the genesis of your books. How do you get started?
I get started with a notebook. Ideas come, they are written down. Eventually over months and years they take shape into something coherent.
Least favourite praise/favourite criticism about your work?
“Keep trying this approach and see what happens.” My wife says this often (she is my first reader). It means she knows I am on the wrong track but doesn’t want to get into a fight with me.
Books and politics: what should the connection be? What makes writers good/bad activists?
All writing is political. A writer who says their writing is not political is simply a writer who is uncomfortable with the politics inherent in their writing.
Your favourite literary character. Why?
The spider Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. What a good friend.
A book you wish you had written…
Pereira Declares by Antonio Tabucchi.
Best recent read…
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.
Choose an epitaph…
He will be missed.
A question you wish we’d asked…
How do you manage to make it all look so effortless?
Berlin: the first thing that comes to mind?