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Sorayya Khan talks to Curious Book Fans

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In the first ever author’s interview on Curious Book Fans site we talk to Sorayya Khan, author of novels Noor (2003) and Five Queen’s Road (2009). She was born in Europe, grew up in Pakistan and now lives in the US. Sorayya KhanShe received a Fulbright award and Constance Saltonstall Foundation Artist Grant. Her story, “In the Shadows of the Margalla Hills,” won the 1995 Malahat Review First Novella prize. Her work has been anthologized in several collections, including Bapsi Sidhwa’s City Of Sin And Splendor: Writings On Lahore.

Intrigued by her splendid family saga Five Queen’s Road and her internationally diverse background we were very curious to hear more from Sorayya herself.

CBF: Whilst reading Five Queen’s Road I had you earmarked as the daughter of the Dutch mother and Pakistani father who feature in the story. Are these characters based on your parents and did Five Queen’s Road and the families that lived there really exist?

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Five Queen’s Road

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Five Queen's Road by Sorayya KhanIn 1947 Earl Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, signed on the dotted line to give independence to the nation of India and like so many of the British living there, he prepared to pack his bags and head home. The transition from the old administration to the new was not simple. The large red ‘blob’ on the world map which represented the India of Empire days was torn apart by two new lines forming the boundaries between Hindu-majority India and her newly-formed Muslim neighbours, East and West Pakistan. In just a couple of sweeps of a pen, the face of India lost her ‘ears’ in the Partition and tens of millions of people found themselves on the wrong side of the line. Chaos and carnage ensued with millions left dead and many millions more made homeless as they left behind everything they’d built over many generations. The Partition is a strong and oft reworked theme of the literature of the sub-continent but in Sorayya Khan’s novel, Five Queen’s Road, the more typical tale of leaving is replaced with one of the determination of a stubborn man to stay behind in a hostile country.

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